Review: Mike Osborne — Holly Johnson Gallery




“Papers and Trains,” among other things, instructs us in printing processes. Mike Osborne’s work bifurcates into images exploring newspaper print rooms and their concomitant world of CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow and black, to the uninitiated) and RGB (red, green and blue) that defines the gamut of both the screens of our computers and his vivid scenes of German and French subways. The latter works are compelling because they’re so remarkably, luridly brilliant. The artist explained that he prints them as RGB images. They aren’t made to suffer the dulling diminution old-fashioned CMYK would wreak upon the pieces.


“Aufzug” takes us down a yellow corridor to an obfuscated figure behind an aqua door. It’s compelling — however, the color is doing all the work. We aren’t particularly interested in what the figure’s history or future might be. It doesn’t pull us behind the aqua and make us long for narrative. By contrast, “Attendant,” the image that functioned as a branding “logo” for the show, is emotional and riveting. Not only do we witness Osborne’s trademark outrageous color; he confers something in the figure’s posture that tugs at us. She’s injured and one can’t help but ponder why her arms are tucked and pulled in. It’s a story; but we’re only privy to a tiny sliver of the narrative. “Attendant” is the apex of the show and I, for one, longed for more. It was a piece with sustained depth that, by comparison, left us feeling as if we’d been cheated by the more shallow fare this aching figure left in her wake.


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