When looking at abstract painting as a genre, there can be a sense of instability or lightness when the images lack obvious context. This is not the case with Fernan D’Osorio Zumarán. His paintings have the presence and depth that show the evolution of a vision throughout his work.
D’Osorio’s artist statement proclaims, “Art for a better world”. His exploration has offered a varied and frequently vibrant display to state his case. Representational and abstract shapes are in constant interaction. Colors and contours bounce in vibrant wordless conversations — generating energy with a mature forcefulness.
His recent paintings bring together all of his creative themes incorporate them to emphasize the irrelevance of time when it comes to creative expression. Everything is happening at once, aware of the past as it forges into the future. It is simultaneously at its infancy, in development, and at maturity...unrestricted, and culminating into an end result that is informed, fresh, and alive.
For D’Osorio, communication is key. Turning the tables on time allows him to constantly examine and re-examine shape, texture, color and form to allow different configurations to create unique engagements with each viewer.
This also enables us to see his visual inspirations — a reflection of Kandinsky, a tribute to Rothko, elements of Motherwell, Chagall, deKooning — are all present, but meld into what is unequivocally D’Osorio.
D’Osorio focuses on a set of specific ideas, developing a theme to create a collection of works. Slicing out this visual layer brings structure to the finished works.
Stakes in Yellow, 2019, acrylic on canvas, 66 x 50 in (168 x 127 cm)
For example, “Stakes in Yellow” (2019) has a subdued, minimalist balance. The pared down abstraction has a feeling reminiscent of a Nathan Olivera in its deep yellow tones, and of a Mondrian in its grid-like composition. The sparseness enhances its richness and passion. The intensity of the yellow and the simplicity of the moon’s white glow display how color and form balance each other to engage the mind and emotion of the viewer. The white boxed outline suggests a window the viewer is looking into or from, playing with the notion of placement within the scene. It moves in and out of the space, bringing all of the elements of form, color, texture, time, and place together.
Expansion of the Universe in Yellow, 2019, acrylic on canvas, 50 x 96 in (127 x 244 cm)
“Expansion of the Universe in Yellow” (2019) continues exploration of the same color palette and grid-like plane, adding Arpian and Kandinsky shapes to depict the energy of the cosmos. The viewer joins the painting on a wider scale, moving along road-like contours that break down into street-like branches. The “universe” broadens the viewer’s aspect and pulls them in for the journey. The amebic, birdlike shapes add green — symbolic of nature, a recurrent theme, harmony, growth, and revitalization. The works embody D’Osorio’s statement: “Art is a holistic practice; it involves the mind, body, emotions, and spirit. Art links the world of above with the world below, what is apparent with the unseen. By its means, it gives form to the formless. What is ineffable can be expressed through shapes, symbols, and color. It is the language of the soul, a call to mankind to focus their attention on what is essential in life.”
The Guru, 2019, acrylic on canvas, 64 x 50 in (163 x 127 cm)
“The Guru” (2019) is a balance of abstraction and representation. The figure appears to be a self-portrait — D’Osorio the Guru — wrapped and rapt in his own visual metaphor, one leg bent and arms up, leaping through time and space. Elements of nature combine with architectural lines and curves, suggesting roads and travel across thought, movement, time, and space -- forever seeking. Textures hold him back and push him forward, further testing the boundaries of the painted plane. D’Osorio observes, “The visual language is cryptic, mysterious...I use shapes, line and color...a common language we all human can share...to unite us a human beings...to convey things that come from the realm of the spirit, thoughts, fantasies, mystery, and subtle emotion” The Guru’s leap brings this message to the viewer.
The works such as “Direct Path” and “Joy”, D’Osorio’s is reminiscent of Matisse’s cut-outs and altarpieces in their abstract graphic energy and color. He also pays tribute to the luxurious, amorphous shapes found years later in the work of Abstract Expressionists such as Gorky and deKooning. Some paintings’ frenetic compositions bear the influence of Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner. The spaces are satisfyingly rich with meaning on a variety of levels, moving in and out of abstraction and representationalism as they pull the viewer in. D’Osorio observes, “There is a moment when the viewer and artist meet. It is the moment when the viewer contemplates the work...communication between the two occurs...intense and complete.”
Joy, 2019, acrylic on canvas, 64 x 96 (163 x 244 cm)
Earlier work provides the opportunity to trace the evolution of D’Osorio’s vision. In the painting “Trees and Full Moon”, from the “Transitions” series (2013-2014), a more representational landscape explores the geometric symmetry of nature in space. Horizontal and diagonal branches jut out from vertical tree trunks, as ragged mountains emerge from the background. Roughly hewn clouds populate the night sky as a perfectly circular moon shines as the counterbalance to their banter. It is worth noting, a few years later, when the landscape theme is explored again, it is broken down into the barest yet still richly evocative, aforementioned “Stakes in Yellow”.
Trees with Full Moon, 2014, acrylic on canvas, 36 x 36 in (91 x 91 cm)
In “Cave Painting”, the composition conjures up the historic storytelling of cave paintings with animal and human figures dancing across the landscape with influences of Matisse, Chagall, and even Klee. The painting looks back in time and brings the prehistoric to the present-day for the viewer to engage with elements of art and artists through time. It encourages contemplation of not just his own work but heightens the viewer’s interest in seeking out the points of reference for further enrichment.
Cave Painting, 2014, triptych, acrylic on canvas, 20 x 48 in (51 x 122 cm)
D’Osorio is a visual collector. Looking at his work across years show influence from many artists, interests, ideas, sources of information, and paths of spiritual exploration. He repeatedly builds up and breaks down his language as his active mind and analytical inclinations drive him to recreate his vision. Grouping his work into themed collections focuses the viewer’s engagement in a more informed manner.
“A better world” is one where we all benefit. And we are all better off having had the opportunity to engage with his work.
About Fernan Osorio Zumarán
Fernan Osorio was born in Peru in 1949. In his youth, he discovered in Wassily Kandinsky and Paul Klee a kindred spirit. Along with Piet Mondrian, Rene Magritte, and Joan Miro, these artists were modernist masters who came to influence his own vision.
Osorio studied art at Universidad Católica and Drawing at the Cristina Gálvez Art Studio in Lima. When he arrived in the United States in 1988, he took classes at Corcoran College of Art and Design in Washington D.C., and The Art League in Alexandria, Virginia. He has taught Design and Perspective at Universidad Católica School of Art.
His work is in private collections in Washington D.C., New York; Berne, Switzerland; and in Lima and Trujillo, Peru. His studio at the Workhouse Arts Center in Lorton, Virginia is open for viewing.