Der Kleine Angsthase?

Fear is one of the strongest emotions. Fear feeds on lived experiences, on unlived anxieties and makes use of all means at its disposal. It uses common threats and discomfort to the same extent as it invents new ones. It reproduces and produces at the same time, it copies, quotes, counteracts, records.

Oliver Osborne understands Elizabeth Shaw’s children’s book Der Kleine Angsthase (1963) both as a carrier and as the object of his message, and thus discovers symbolism as a painterly tool, which no longer becomes just a medium but a subject for him. He directs attention back to that which threatens to disappear in the transparency of the painterly image: he refers back to the image.

The first, next and probably most important environment of a painting are therefore other paintings. Our pictorial history consists of stories, places, objects that are memorized through thinking. Oliver Osborne’s pictorial worlds are paradoxical in a fascinating way: signs and motifs are recognizable, but what he wants to show often remains deliberately open. There are traces that we follow, references that we read, but in the end it is the precise painterly gaze that makes us think about the realities and possibilities of his conditional representation.

Nils Emmerichs