Things are not what they seem. Or what you see is what you get. Which is it? It’s convenient to think that things are one or the other. Rarely are things black and white. And yet, that’s how the world at large seems to operate. The nuance that shapes things is ignored. But behind every seemingly obvious outcome is a complex set of accumulated incidents that have been interpreted. The most effective messages are built upon a composite of experience that is distilled to a point of clarity. Paring back, the practice of refining things to their simplest form, the art of minimalism – these things are not achieved just by taking things away. It’s by working and reworking things until they become symbolic; knowing that whatever you remove is being integrated into what’s left in a more powerful way. This is the art of Ale Osollo.
Like many that have gone before her, Ale is a Mexican artist adept at creating murals. Her large scale works and outdoor art on hoardings and buildings, are like fairy-tales, with sprawling scenes, multiple characters, and mixed emotions all swirling along together trying to make sense of what’s up and what’s down. They are narratives, rich in symbolism that draw on heritage. They are visual stories infused with her philosophy towards life and can be read just like a book. They are pure yet layered.
“Blessed Be Your Existence”, Mural of Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel, La Azotea, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
Arty-Fact: San Miguel de Allende, a colonial-era city in Mexico’s central highlands, is known for its baroque Spanish architecture, thriving arts scene and cultural festivals. In the city’s historic, cobblestoned centre lies the neo-Gothic church Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel, whose dramatic pink towers rise above the main plaza, El Jardín. The mural is a continuation of the view towards the parish from La Azotea’s roof top terrace.
“From the terrace of the restaurant there is an impressive view of the parish. The owner asked for a continuation of the view to be created on an old wall, creating an optical illusion. Titled ‘Blessed Be Your Existence' is a tribute to Zeferino Gutiérrez Muñoz who in 1880 transformed the parish of San Miguel de Allende into the stunning architecture you see today.” ~ Ale Osollo
This is the case with her paintings and hung artworks too. Ale’s portraits and landscapes of figurative subjects are abstracted over and over again, re-imagined in multiple layers until the final elements reveal themselves. “I never know what’s going to happen when I start a new piece. I don’t come to the canvas with a preconceived idea. I work until it reveals itself to me. But that’s not necessarily the end of the painting,” explains Ale. “I might put the painting aside for a while and come back to it if I’ve not given it what I’ve got to say. Sometimes I totally paint over it and start again. But all those layers underneath are still part of the finished painting. The memory of them is still there and they complement the final piece.” Much like Ale’s own life.
“Pelele”, mixed media on canvas, 2018
Arty-Fact: "Pelele is a character in my imagination. He has been a presence from the time I began human figure studies. He has appeared again and again to take life in my imagination. He is a reflection of me. What is echoed back in the canvas is an interpretation of my soul.
"The scene depicted in this work comes from an imaginary world reflected in a puddle of water. A portal into another world. From there, you can see what the mind invites you to create, each with their imagination can see what their reflection suggests." ~ Ale Osollo
Once you know her love story it would be easy to assume that it was down to luck. Or divine intervention. But that would be to deny the layers upon layers of work on the canvas, the many times it’s been revisited and tweaked, the conscious effort that’s gone into manifesting her own happily ever after. “After my divorce I hit rock bottom. I was devastated. I was deeply depressed. The only thing that got me through was painting. I would paint to excess.” This is no surprise when you discover that Ale, as a child, would paint on any surface she could get her hands on. It was common for her to paint the shell of every egg in the house and endless sheets of toilet paper, not to mention walls, such was her drive and desperation to express and connect with others.
“Tormenta de Papel”, mixed media on canvas, 2020
Arty-Fact: "Nature is devastating and fascinating.
“I felt lost when it came to me... Between the struggle of homogeneous and heterogeneous mixtures, this storm of natural materials, full of vibrant passion represents the character and fury of the scene.
"The darkest point of the night is the time just before sunrise.
"The origami ship in the waters of the restless seas is created with a textile collage. It is the shining star in the middle of a whirlpool in the universe. It is a light that jumps and illuminates the darkest point of the night bringing hope and rebirth.
"The emotion expressed in this painting entitled Paper Storm is extremely powerful." ~ Ale Osollo
“At my lowest point I locked myself away in a room so my children couldn’t hear me cry and I begged God to help me.” And here’s the part that could diminish her struggle and make a miraculous overnight success story sound more believable: “After that moment I left the room and took my kids to a park and met a guy named Angel.” As it happened, Angel was also separated at the time. After an accident with an electric car the adults began talking. “We sorted the kids out and then we just started hanging out together. He became the angel I asked for.” Angel has been Ale’s champion ever since, even making the pilgrimage to South East Asia to approach Addicted Art Gallery directly about representing Ale globally, so more people around the world can share the joy of her paintings.
Ale’s paintings declare themselves. Much like the answer that came from her cry for help, in the form of Angel. Yet, there is a ghost-like nature to them that seems to echo voices from other worlds. As the top layer celebrates - each artwork an act of survival to have made itself into creation – they’re haunted by the struggle it’s taken to come to life and blossom. You can see their past and their progress lingering in the background. Just like all of us, really. In the end, none of us are black or white.
“En El Mismo Barco”, mixed media on canvas, 2020
Arty-Fact: "The premonitory silhouettes appear and disappear depending on the view of the perceiver. Considered within an impressionistic and figurative style, the work suggests to an indefinite group of people, sometimes more, sometimes less, travelers in a boat. Together or apart, there is an inter-connectivity in their food, culture, race - we are all part of the boat.
"Honouring unity with my life, knowing that we are one.
“Honouring my unity with life, realising that everything is one.
"As individuals, not all of us are alike. We have different lifestyles, beliefs and perceptions. When we begin to understand this concept of life in unity, the idea of a personal ‘I’ will lead us to the universal ‘I’." ~ Ale Osollo
Get in touch with Elena and Blair at Addicted Art Gallery to discover more about Ale and her work.
Artist: Ale Osollo
“Rarely are things black and white.”
Written by Skye Wellington, Lens & Pen Projects