Oliver Osborne

To produce ’37/38 (Time)’ Oliver Osborne screen-printed five pages from a Turkish language handbook onto large canvas panels. The pages include terms used in everyday interactions such as exchanging money, seeing a doctor, transport, dining out, and recreation. Doodled over the text are an assortment of keys, whose function speaks to that of the text as a whole and whose modular forms mimic the close relation of its terms, by which proximate words are often similar in meaning.

‘bogaz olmak to have a sore throat
boys empty, vacant, free
bozdurmak to have (money) changed
bozuk broken, out of order
bozuk para small change, coins
bozulmak to become out of order, to break down’

A number of the handbook’s illustrations - which the artist refers to as ‘proto-clipart’ - instruct their viewer on reading clock times aloud. The series of arms bent at the elbow as they check the time resonates with a nearby figure raising his fists on-guard’. 37/38 (Time)’s source imagery undergoes simple operations - repetition, mirroring, division, enlargement - its wide painted surfaces opening the handbook’s contents up to interpretations far beyond those for which they were originally intended.

Osborne’s series often employ a modular composition in which uniform fields of colour, realist oil painting, and screen-printed text and cartoons taken from old European language textbooks intersect with one another at key points. The artist’s works reveal, often with humour, the many ways in which art may accentuate a subject’s more nuanced or ambiguous qualities, introducing a surplus of meaning that opposes the didacticism of translation.


Oliver Osborne (b. 1985, Edinburgh) is an artist living and working in London and Berlin. He received his PgD in Fine Art from The Royal Academy of Arts, London and his BA in Fine Art from Chelsea College of Art, London. Selected solo exhibitions include Giò Marconi, Milan; Catherine Bastide, Brussels; Carl Kostyal, Stockholm, 2015; Vilma Gold, London, Frutta, Rome, 2013; Peles Empire, London, 2010. Recent group shows include Giò Marconi, Milan, 2015; OHWOW, Los Angeles; Pace Gallery, London; Saatchi Gallery, London; Autocenter, Berlin, 2014; Jonathan Viner, Margate; American Contemporary, New York; Bloomberg New Contemporaries, Liverpool Biennial & ICA, London, 2013.


37/38 (Time), 2014
acrylic and silkscreen on linen
160 x 560 cm