The Dutch artist Ossip (The Hague, 1952) constructs a replica of his own studio in the Projects Gallery of the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag. Visitors will be confronted with his ‘favourite objects’ and the works of art with which he surrounds himself in his workplace. The result is a theatrical installation that bombards the viewer with intriguing and immediately fascinating images. Viewers will be gripped by the oppressive intensity of his work.
As they explore this installation with its hanging and standing figures, visitors may find themselves knocked off their feet – literally as well as figuratively! Photographs of strange figures, like a man wearing a suit and traditional bowler hat over a pair of women’s shoes, hang on chains from the ceiling. Other figures stand on small plinths or hang suspended from the wall. Three naked ladies on an old ironing board are roped together and fastened to the iron by a construction made of steel wire. Others are perched on a stool, a book or a lampshade.
Ossip uses old photographs taken from medical books or faded newspapers and magazines, often dating back to the early twentieth century. He is interested in the images themselves, not their context. The pictures are astonishing, partly because they often show people with physical abnormalities and partly (as when they show classic beauties of the past) because they are removed from their original historical context. Ossip enlarges these isolated images and manipulates them to place them in today’s world. The original image is still there but its meaning is changed. He restores three-dimensionality by stretching strings or wire around it or adding animal bones or fragments of cloth. In this way, emphases are imposed and powerful images are created. Ossip’s procedure conjures up a completely different world, in which viewers are free to endow the new images with whatever significance they choose. Ossip works by association; the texts he places on the works may bear some relationship to them, but then again they may not. His unorthodox working methods are not based on any ideology or art historical style. He aims to avoid any kind of accompanying rhetoric, believing that art should be left to speak for itself. The resulting work is intriguing, often oppressive, challenging and thoroughly thought-provoking.
Ossip’s studio is one of a series of shows in the Projects Gallery in which artists produce work in response to Berlage’s unique architecture.
An extensive and fully illustrated publication on Ossip is to be issued to coincide with the exhibition.