Monday, March 16, 2015

The Desire for Freedom

“I took up painting as a form of escapism from the monotonous and tedious regime of prison life.”
Julio Cesar Osorio

The Colombian born British photographer and painter Julio Cesar Osorio’s life can be broken down into two distinct parts; pre and post prison. In 2012 at the age of 42 Osorio was confined at her Majesty’s pleasure for two and a half years for his involvement in pub brawl in Central London. And as he told Art Scribbles “I cannot imagine how I would have coped without my art.”

Prior to that fatal night in 2012 Osorio’s life was that of a photographer who after graduating set up a studio in 2009 in London’s Soho district. As he explained to Art Finder “I worked in different fields of photography after graduating but my main passion was documentary and [I] found it hard to make a living from that, so I set up a studio and concentrated on studio work for a several years, and did my own work in my spare time.” The image below, Puzzle, is one of his personal works from that time.

Deprived of his photography whilst doing his “porridge,” Osorio took up painting to mentally escape the confines of his 12 x 6 cell. Of his first attempts Osorio has said “it was slow going at first. I painted a beach, and the first thing I realized was that I could definitely improve. But more importantly, I could paint.”

And paint he did. During his two and half years of confinement at HMP Wandswoth and Highpoint Prison, Osorio produced over 60 works. In a style that recalls the innocence of Henri Rousseau combined with the imaginings of the surrealists Osorio expressed his thoughts and feelings on a wide variety of topics. As he has said “I looked into thoughts, feelings, emotions, conflicts and desires that I experience each day of my two and a half years served in overcrowded and basic conditions of the English prison system.

This visual storyteller, who today sleeps in his own bed, continues to tell his tales in paint, although the contemporary issues of the day have replaced the need to flee the restrictions of incarceration. The camera it seems has been confined to the pre prison part of his life, for as he says “It [painting] has become my new passion and a new story telling medium.”  

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