ABOUT EN ROUTE
Osuna’s landscapes are constructed as memoirs: visual recollections
of the fleeting yet sensuous moments travelers experience en route.
These brushes with the landscape highlight the strong connection between
the permanence of the roadway and substantiality of our own reflections.
Asked to create a series of transportation inspired works, Osuna concentrates
on the motorway as a conduit between constructed and natural geography
and our visceral recollections of those spaces and moments. If landscapes
record the physical stories we encounter, Osuna’s interest lies
in the long arc of the narrative: the textural relevancy of what is
real, what is remembered, and what is reconstituted to satisfy our desire
to relive the experience we can never have again.
Osuna is interested in the kinetic resonance of travel’s visual
narrative. He expands the lens so the canvas depicts the big picture,
synthesizing the visual as retrospection, foregrounding the liminality
of both the road and the passage over and through it. What we experience
en route is part memory, part fabrication. The work becomes a dynamic
rendering of the transparency of narrative constructed in the motion
of the highway.
En Route reveals the pathway as a primal element of human mobility.
The roadway transports the traveler from one location to another, it
is not a place to stay, and the transience of the experience mists over
the exactitude of what is witnessed. Osuna revels in this space, using
gradients of color that remove detail so that the viewer focuses less
on the sharper aspects of the road and more on the memory of the encounter.
Despite the watercolor quality of the images, there is no softness in
these pieces. There is however, a sensuality that draws the viewer into
the canvas. The smoothness of the brushstroke exemplifies the haziness
of the memory. Each stroke has a place, driving the pigment just so
and solidifying the transient effect, so that Osuna is as much en route
creating the work as the viewer is encountering and reencountering it.
painting in En Route is singular, telling its own story, but collectively
the work represents Osuna’s (and by proxy our own) transitory
connection to Los Angeles as a cityscape that is largely superficial,
skimmed rather than dived in to. Painterly use of light captures the
viscosity of what we remember in the blur of moments, spaced between
locations. The richness of LA is unfolded in the sweeping transition
of light and color on the canvas. These works resemble a Rorschach memory
test where the viewer assigns to the visual a connection to a prior
experience, “I’ve been there, I just don’t know where
Osuna’s use of color is an homage to his watercolorist beginnings.
It allows him to capture the crossing in space and time of being en
route, heading to the horizon, into the blue. As we distance ourselves
from the sharp formations comprising the landscape, everything goes
blue and our brains revert to the womb, to the water. And in Los Angeles,
the ocean provides an enormously potent backdrop to our movements.
The paintings in this series evoke the roadway as the in LA as both
a temporal and permanent backdrop of experience. What was past, what
was experienced still exists in the present, in a narrative referenced
on canvas as one color softly bleeding into another, conjuring a conversation
already felt as much as encountered along one’s way.
Roads are often referred to as arteries, channels of transportation
and communication. Motorways in Los Angeles in particular cut through
the cityscape in drastic ways, providing a convenience and an escape.
Drivers no longer focus on the road, the barely perceptible surface
of experience, despite its incontrovertible permanence, and instead
look ahead to the desired destination. But our brains and, Osuna would
argue, our imaginations are alert, refining the mundane with the specificity
of an artist’s eye. He reminds us of this subconscious process
by painting those memories, as we recall them, on large canvases that
place us both within the narrative of our recollections and the actual
roadways that crisscross LA.