THE THINNESS OF JUDITH OSBORN
BY RALPH KEUNING DIRECTOR MUSEUM DE FUNDATIE, THE NETHERLANDS
Judith Osborn has been busy these last two years. It’s a lifelong advent that led her to this point; as a child, Osborn was most in her element when she had a pencil in hand. It seemed a natural progression for her to pursue an education in the arts, taking a place at the Academy of Arts in The Hague. When her schooling ended, however, her professional practice as an artist also came to a standstill. Osborn is inclined to expressing her talents in many fields, you see, and painting faded into the background. It was something of a way-post, then, when her friend Bert van der Veer saw for the first time the paintings she had made in her youth, and urged her pick up the paintbrush once again. Osborn started anew, creating landscapes in tribute to the great French masters of the late 19th century — Impressionists, Fauvists, who captured the languidness and peace of the countryside.
The themes of her next phase were laid bare at Judith Wolbrink’s Amsterdam gallery, where hung a series of vast selfportraits — nudes — of delicate lightness and vulnerability, and a total departure to the landscapes of before. It was as if Osborn were searching for associations with the work of Egon Schiele; what we witnessed was not the eternal beauty of nature, but the notion that temporarity dominates the human condition. In spite of their elusiveness, what immediately assailed in these self-portraits was the transparency of the clear lines — the figure and the painting melting together in monochromy before disappearing into the haze.
These new works of Osborn appear to reconcile the themes of her early paintings with her first portraits. The theme has remained, Judith herself, but the colours return with an ardent spirit. The reserve and the transparency have disappeared to reveal a confident painter showing herself. First she gave us vulnerability and existential doubt, now she tells us that life may be transitory, but that her art is not, like the lavender fields of Provence…