Andrew Osta painting in the south of France

Andrew Osta is a figurative painter currently based in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. Originally from Kiev, Ukraine, he spent 17 years in Canada, exhibiting since 2005 and traveling extensively. As of 2017, He has had two solo museum shows: in Italy and in Mexico.

Osta’s unique style is the result of extensive experimentation. He is entirely self taught, without any formal art training. Vibrant yet refined colors, a balanced composition, and a rich personal symbolism define Osta’s work, the range of it is impressive. With his surrealist and symbolic work, he documents his inner states: emotions, thoughts, and feelings. With his landscapes and portraits, he keeps a record of his travels and the people around him. Osta’s work often speaks powerfully and directly with the viewer, resonating with the heart, or the very core of the human being. The paintings that aim to capture the essence of their subjects sometimes transcend the physicality of reality and reach into deeper spiritual dimensions of existence.

Osta’s symbolic paintings rely on a psychological perspective, which dates back at least 15 centuries, to Russian Orthodox iconography. The images are not merely decorative but tell a story. More important elements are painted larger and brighter, while secondary elements act as modifiers, giving character to the main elements. Because a painting is by nature non linear and can’t be seen in merely one way, the stories it tells are largely the product of the mind of the viewer. Each time a richly symbolic and complex painting is seen, the viewer’s mind interprets it differently. Thus, Osta’s work functions as a mirror into the human psyche and can act as an instrument of introspection, as well as an object of art.

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2017

Solo Museum Exhibition in the Museum of the City of Durango, Durango, Mexico
Solo Exhibition at "Aldama Gallery" San Miguel de Allende
Solo Exhibition at "Connexion Aurora Gallery" San Miguel de Allende

2016

Solo Exhibition in Charlotte Gallery, Menton, France
Museum Exhibition at Templar Museum, San Remo, Italy
Joint Exhibition with accomplished French painter Jaro Slavko
Group Exhibition in Palazzo del Senato, Milano, Italy

 

2015

Visits to Amsterdam, Brussels, Paris, Geneva, Dusseldorf.
Artist Residency in Switzerland.
Exhibitions in France and Switzerland.
Portrait of Prince Albert of Monaco.
10 Year Retrospective Exhibition.

 

2014
Published second book, “Walk in the Light: Holy Wisdom for Modern Times"
Exhibition at Toller Cranston gallery.
Visits to Madrid, Barcelona, Nice, Monte Carlo, San Remo, Pisa, and Florence.
Married Ninfa Cuervo

 

2011 – 2013
Relocation to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.
Mentorship under Toller Cranston.
Numerous solo and group exhibitions in Mexico.
Close friendships with renowned artists: Toller Cranston, Marion Perlet, Bruce Stuart, E.C. Bell, Keith Keller, and many others.
First visit to Italy.

 

2010
Published “Shamans and Healers: The Untold Ayahuasca Story"
Recorded and published Original Music CD, “Dimension Dream.”
Solo and group exhibitions in Toronto and Hamilton.
Visit to Guatemala.
Renunciation of Shamanism

 

2009
Guest speaker at “The Art and Heart of Healing” conference in Peru.
Joint exhibition with the late Pablo Amaringo in Iquitos, Peru.
Visits to Paris, Dublin, Kiev, Colombia and Brazil.
Shamanic apprenticeship in Peru

 

2008
Helped develop the first “Healing and Counseling Through Art” program in Canada.
Worked as assistant art therapist.
Exhibitions in Hamilton, Stoney Creek, Toronto.
Visit to Peru.

 

2007
Exhibitions in South Korea: Seoul and Cheonan.
Guest speaker: “Automatic Subconscious Creation,” Cheonan, South Korea
Visit to Osaka, Japan

 

2006
Graduated with top honors from the University of Toronto.
Exhibitions in Hamilton, Dundas, Toronto.
Visits to New York and Mexico
Exhibitions in Cancun and Playa del Carmen, Mexico.
Guest speaker at McMaster University.
Radio interview with on McMaster Radio.

 

2005
Began to draw (pen and ink) and paint (pastels)

 

2002
Began writing poetry, songs, and music.

 

1994
Immigrated to Canada.

1982
Born in Kiev, Ukraine.

2017
Museo del Pueblo, Durango, Durango, Mexico
The Gallery, San Miguel de Allende
Avalon Gallery, Marin County, CA

2016

Charlotte Gallery, Menton, France.
Hotel des Anglais, San Remo, Italy.
Russian Bistro, San Miguel de Allende
Studio Andrew Osta, San Miguel de Allende

2015

Shelter Theater, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
Casa de Europa en Mexico, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
Casa Jean Binet, Trelex, Switzerland
Hecho en Mexico, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
Casa de Europa en Mexico, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
Bordello Gallery, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

2014

Toller Cranston Gallery, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
“Sharon de Jardines Gallery, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
Dolce Far Niente, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
La Biblioteca, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
Bordello Gallery, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
The Word, Kerrville, Texas
Casa Esperanza, Oaxaca, Mexico

2013

Instituto de Arquitectura de la Ciudad de Mexico CAM-SAM., Mexico D.F.
El Syndicato, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
Bordello Gallery, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
La Biblioteca, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

2012

Ideas, Xalapa, Mexico
La Biblioteca, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
Galeria Bella Epoca, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

2011

The Engine Gallery, Toronto, Ontario Canada
The Divine Touch, Toronto, Ontario Canada
Arts Hamilton, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Volunteer Hamilton, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

2010
Norman Felix Gallery, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Sunrise Gallery, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
The Print Studio, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Gallery 4, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

2009
Intolerant Gallery, Hamilton, Ontario
The Freeway, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Hamilton Artists Inc, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
ICAA, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Norman Felix Gallery, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

2008
Liuna Center, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Sunrise Gallery, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Mentor Gallery, Cheonan, South Korea
Gallery 4, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

2007
McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Parker Pearce Gallery, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Moonbean Cafe, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

2006
Victory Café, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

GROUP EXHIBITIONS

2016

Charlotte Gallery, Menton, France
Palazzo del Senato, Milan, Italy
Jaro Slavko Gallery, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
Mon Bistro, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
Hecho en Mexico, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
Casa de Corazon, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
La Tienda, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
Salon Andre Pascal, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

2015
Bordello Gallery, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
Contemporary Art Gallery Relox 46, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
Casa Corazon, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

2014

Toller Cranston Gallery, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
Hercules, Queretaro, Mexico
Rosewood Hotel, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
10th International Shamanism Conference, Iquitos, Peru

2013

El Castillo, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
Casa Canal, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
Instituto Allende, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

2012

El Castillo, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
Punto Fijo Galeria, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
Hercules, Queretaro, Mexico

2011

Punto Fijo Galeria, Mexico, D.F., Mexico
Hotel Real de Minas, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
Intolerant Gallery, Hamilton, Ontario
7th Annual Amazonian Shamanism Conference, Iquitos, Peru.
Sunrise Gallery, Hamilton, Ontario

2010

6th Annual International Shamanism Conference, Iquitos, Peru
Norman Felix Gallery, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

2009

Global Citizenship Conference, McMaster University, Canada
5th Annual International Shamanism Conference, Iquitos, Peru
Norman Felix Gallery, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

2008

McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Liuna Center, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Sabawoon, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Centre for Immigrant Arts and Culture, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

2007

Art in The Ghetto, Seoul, South Korea
High Park Art Tour, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Dundas Valley School of Art, Dundas, Canada
Hamilton City Hall, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

2006

Hamilton Central Library, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Parker Pearce Gallery, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Dundas Valley School of Art, Dundas, Ontario, Canada

Artist Statement 2017

This year started by overwhelming me with invitations to exhibit. First, a solo museum show in Durango, Durango, Mexico. I am to go there and enjoy an all-expenses-paid trip, plus a small honorarium. This marks the next stage in my growth as an artist. At the same time, the increased business I am experiencing confronts me with the need to simplify.

I spent some of the last months of 2016 writing. 2017 was supposed to begin with a recording of some of my original songs, but in order to push my painting to the next level, I must let go of my writing, and let go of my music. Those extra hours must be put into my painting. And so, my focus is on letting go, minimizing, and simplifying.

As always, art follows life. As my life demands to become simpler and less cluttered, my art will follow suit. This year I want to explore the essential. I want to progressively reduce my compositions until only the essence is left.

 

Andrew Osta
January 18, 2017


Creation of a Painting (22 minute video)

Through my art, I keep trying to express feelings, thoughts, and perceptions for which I have no words. Sometimes, these expressions include a complex dream-like symbolism that even I can't understand. It is difficult to write about the art you're doing when you yourself often don't understand it until years later. Even now, I find that a lot of my work speaks to me on a subconscious level.

I know when I need to paint, and it doesn't matter if I'm tired, if it's midnight, if I have commitments in the morning. Unless the inspiration is made use of, it goes away, never to return in quite the same form. What comes out in the moment, can only come out in that moment, under very specific conditions. The work I do a day or a week later will be different, because I am different.

The painting unfolds like a game of chess, which I am determined to win. If I put red in one corner, it's like some chess pieces had been moved - certain possibilities cease to be viable, while others open up. The artist has to figure out what is most important in any given painting, and make everything else submit to that. The next color that goes on the canvas depends on what is already there. The harmony of the whole is the most essential part!

Today, when most of what surrounds us has been created by machines, art gains an even greater importance. It remains as a window into the soul and the spirit of humanity. You can feel the difference when there is a painting in a room. It gives warmth.  The point of art is not to glorify the latest trends nor simply to match the color of ones couch. Living surrounded by art is beneficial to our well-being. I dedicate my life to making that possible.

I keep asking myself why I paint and what it is that I am trying to achieve. The answers to this change every year. What stays unchanged is my desire to create “good” paintings, if not “great” ones. But what makes a painting “good”? I suppose for me, it is a combination of originality, technique, composition, idea… and the ability to touch the viewer and establish a meaningful connection.

The challenge is always there to make stronger, brighter, looser, more free, more expressive, more meaningful and original paintings. I strive to create new compositions that are striking and brilliant. Even if nobody else would appreciate what I do, I would be fully satisfied to produce a paining that can stand up to my own scrutiny. Such a painting could also easily stand out from the sea of mediocrity found in most commercial galleries.

If I have a day when I have created something – a song, a painting, or something else that didn’t exist yesterday, I am happy. If I pass a day without creating anything, it is a lost day to me. I will not even remember it. It might as well have never happened.

Getting back to quality painting – I believe painting is like music in the sense that a classical composition has a totally other degree of difficulty than a 3 chord pop song. I believe there are great paintings and mediocre paintings, and this is supported by the experts. However, in the 21st century, the cult of personality has overshadowed the quality of the actual creation. The product is too often considered valuable and worthy of being collected simply because the person who created it is in some way “important”, having received critical acclaim, or having hung out with Andy Warhol or another celebrated artist. As for me, I try my best to make art that would stand on its own, without any explanation of who the artist is, without complicated explanations of “why” this art is great. I seek to create something that can be looked at and appreciated in its own right.

In painting, I constantly study in a somewhat classical way by painting still-lives, landscapes, and portraits from nature. I study relationships between colors, the effect juxtapositions of elements can make, and so on. Then I go one step further and implement those skills and methods into my figurative, surreal, and spiritual art. This is like studying classical music and then producing rock or pop that is seriously interesting to the knowledgeable and perceptive listener, even while remaining likable to the ordinary person. My art strives to achieve this goal. I would like it to be both accessible to people with no art background, and have enough virtuosity and artistry to be appreciated by the experts.

I guess I paint for two reasons: because I love it, and because it is one of the things I do best.

The way a painting feels, the presence it has – these are the key elements I am concerned with. I am not overly concerned with a painting’s subject matter. To me, if someone says “what is that?” and approaches a painting in that way, they are missing the point of what I do. It is fine to wonder what certain elements represent, but only after appreciating the painting as a whole.

My painting is not a representation of “something”. It is a thing in itself – something into which I transferred my energy and to which I gave life. I am not merely trying to imitate something in nature – I am trying to create an object that is as organic as the nature around it.

In my work, I am quite fearless and never worry about ruining a work with too much experimentation. It has always worked out. Since 2005, when I started painting, I had to throw a painting out only two or three times. As long as one is open to new possibilities and fearless changes, any painting can be made to work.

I am very sure about what I do and do not like, and my objective is to always make art that can live up to my own standard.

I am influenced primarily by my own emotions and the events of my day to day life. Absolutely everything that is happening inside or around me can serve as an inspiration.
Artist Statement 2012

I have always felt that an artist is an extremely sensitive being, who is aware of things which most other people simply do not notice. The artist is like a mirror that reflects the things in front of it, and my work has been focused on reflecting my own perceptions of everything within me and around me.

An artist always perceives things differently from “normal” people, and each artist shares his or her perception with the world, so that anyone can step into the artist’s shoes and see the world through his or her unique eyes.

I think an artist must be very selective and keep his eyes, ears, body, mind, and spirit away from the hectic things of the world. The artist must first of all make his or her life into art, so that the beauty of that life can be reflected to others. Great art has to reflect clarity, beauty and something timeless and transcendent. It must possess great originality, have a positive and meaningful message, and be skillfully executed. This is what I am currently working towards.

My work has roots in my Ukrainian heritage and the European artistic tradition, coupled with Canada’s inevitable multiculturalism, and thematically based on my own life experience. That is to say, most of my work has something distinctly Eastern European about it, while also displaying the multicultural influences of life in Canada. There is an intangible common thread of style that ties all of my work together, making it recognizable as such. Regardless of the materials used, color palette, or subject matter, one can see that the entire body of my work was created by a single individual.

I am fascinated with the creative process, and continuously push the boundaries of my own artistic experience to go into previously uncharted territory. From 2005 to 2010, I had been creating narratives with my paintings, where each work was a complex and involved story, similar to a profound dream, open to the individual interpretation of the viewer. I must add, that my narratives always contain hidden elements that are not noticeable during a casual viewing. Therefore, each of my paintings and drawings requires a certain amount of time spent with it intimately before it can fully reveal itself to its audience.

I almost always paint automatically, as if channeling or being guided by a higher power. Ninety nine percent of the time, I have no idea what my subject matter will be, or what the final painting will look like. The work I produce is highly symbolic. When I paint, I follow a process of visual free-association. As a result, most of my paintings reflect my life-situation and emotional state at the time. Throughout my career, I had never created art with commercial intentions, never followed popular trends, and never painted a similar picture twice. At the time of writing, I have completed over 170 major paintings and many hundreds of drawings.

In my art, I am concerned with the way a painting feels and the presence it has. The subject matter is always secondary to the form and the color. In most cases, my painting is not a representation of something. It is a thing in itself – a semi-alive object into which I transferred my energy and to which I gave life. I am not merely trying to imitate something in nature – I am trying to create an object that looks as if it is also an organic part of nature.

I have never taken any courses of art education, and am for that reason, entirely self-taught. I enjoy the challenge of varying my subjects, colors and textures while retaining a style that is highly personalized and consistent as a whole.

My influences are primarily the physical and emotional worlds around me and within me. What I see and feel cannot help but reflect itself in my work.

It’s really quite difficult for me to write about my art, but I can say a few words about how these images came to be. Every one of the paintings began in the same way – I applied paint to the canvas without the slightest idea of what I would paint. As I covered the canvas with color, forms began to emerge, and I brought out whatever I saw, emphasizing certain things and erasing others. In some of the paintings, the forms and the colors changed multiple times. Faces turned into flowers, into fish, into animals, leaves, and so on. The thickness of the paint will tell you a lot about whether the painting went through significant modifications as I worked on in. In other paintings, things came together from the very start, and you can see that the paint is thin.

As to what each painting means, it is similar to interpreting a dream. In a way, my paintings are created in the process of conscious dreaming. I participate in the selection of colors, choosing them to my liking, but the shapes often take form during a process of free-association, similar to an ink blot that “looks like” some recognizable form. Thus, I see various forms in the blots of paint. Then, I just bring out what I see.

In my earlier works, I used to paint whatever I saw without any kind of filtration system in place, but I am now more selective about the forms I bring out. I only want to bring out positive and life-affirming images now. If I begin to see a skull, a demon, or an otherwise disturbing image, I usually just paint it over and look for something else to come through.

In retrospect, my paintings unerringly capture certain periods of my life, reflecting my inner world through symbolism. If a painting takes two weeks to paint, that painting captures my main emotions, thoughts and ideas during that two-week period.

Other people may understand my work in an entirely different manner than I do, and that is completely alright with me. I do not think that there is only one correct interpretation of my paintings – they are so multi-layered that in most cases, a single interpretation is simply impossible. As the eye travels over the canvas, the mind can come up with many interpretations, or perhaps no interpretation whatsoever. Sometimes, I do not understand the meaning of my forms and symbols, but the composition, the colors, the balance, and the feel of the painting are intuitively known by me to be right. When this happens, I call a painting “finished”.

My goal is to show my audience that which in their deepest heart they know to be true and long to see expressed in existence – that is – beauty, harmony, love, and meaning. To create works of art that communicate enduringly over great reaches of time and cultural diversity by addressing the essence of human nature and the human condition, rather than socio-cultural aspects that are peculiar to this or that society. Works of art capable of reflecting to us our own inner structure and inviting us to see fully what it means to be authentically human.

Artist Photos