There’s Something Special About Jim Osman’s Sculpture

Installation view of Jim Osman: Walnut: Second Series at McKenzie Fine Art. Foreground: “Vas” (2019), wood, paint, and cast paint, 17 1/2 x 16 x 11 3/4 inches (courtesy McKenzie Fine Art)

I have been puzzling over Jim Osman’s sculptures ever since I first saw them a few years ago in an exhibition that was too crowded for me to really see what they were doing. I knew there was something special about them without knowing exactly what. 

Sculptures need space no matter their size, and this is particularly true of Osman’s works, which invite scrutiny, even as their complex structures encourage viewers to look at them from all sides, as some possess nooks and crannies that are not the main focus of the works. At the same time — and this really struck me — Osman seems, for the most part, uninterested in exploring one of the sculpture’s central tropes: the column, stack, or pile. There are parts that he stacks, but this too is not the central focus of the pieces.

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