broken toys



By adapting material from junk shops, among which are children's toys, Osborne has struck up a synthetic interplay of a pictorial and sculptural kind. The two and three dimensional, vie for our attention so that the art work once again accommodates surrealistic symbolism and intrinsic abstract qualities. The recurring literary and visual interface endows the work with a vital tension, or paradox, calling into question the functional role of the plastic arts at large, within the broader cultural context. Old questions concerning aesthetic autonomy (art for art’s sake) or social utility and function (art for society’s sake) are thereby touched on.

The subject of the doll, used by the celebrated surrealist artist Hans Bellmer, has fascinated Osborne and influenced important modern British sculptors, such as Bernard Meadows, Reg Butler and Ralph Brown, and more recently the limp figures of YBA artist Sarah Lucas. The American conceptual photographer Cindy Sherman has also used doll imagery. For Osborne, the use of the doll is perhaps less overtly sculptural, than a discreet extension into the third dimension of the satirical photomontage and art brut textural collage that had hitherto exercised his imaginations. The slightly disturbing, even macabre, associations of a child’s plaything subjected to distortion, or damage, adds a further conceptual twist , touching on the raw nerve of black humour and surreal psychological dysfunction.



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