Drawing The Imagination

The Colombian Fine Artist With A Stunning Drawing Practice

Drawing is fine art that requires unrelenting patience combined with a fascination with the most tiny and intricate details imaginable. Introducing a young Colombian Fine Arts student, Juan Osorno, whose illustrations and drawings seem to be preoccupied with exactly these thoughts: a certain methodology and practice of drawing. At only 22 years old, and in the final semester of his Masters degree at the University of Antioquia, Juan is beginning to make a name for himself both within Colombia and internationally.

His latest series, Dibujos (Drawings), is a stunning working process documenting his daily drawing practice. “I started the series a year ago as a daily exercise, drawing things that sparked my curiosity at the time,” he tells us. In these images, in which his workings-out are displayed alongside the final, completed version, we see such beauty and finesse, and the delicate craft of a steady hand.

He often uses geometry to bring a measured style to the images, as well as a fondness for hands, which appear again and again in the series. Some of the most striking is from Epicentro, in which tree-like branches spring from out of a heart, and in another, where two hands bring the cosmos to life with their web of interlocking lines. These are peaceful drawings, clearly influenced by the precision and grace of medical illustrations.

In other excerpts, he draws bodies that float in mid-air, detached from their other limbs. They seem to suspend natural physical laws, subjected solely to the master-hand that created them.

We caught up with Juan to find out more:

The Plus: Tell us a little bit about your practice.
Juan Osorno:
I always felt an affinity with drawing and a few years ago decided that drawing was the perfect tool to communicate my ideas. Beyond being a successful artist what really interests me is to improve every day as a draftsman. I did not have a clear idea about the meaning they pretended to communicate, I just wanted to draw. I soon realised that these drawings showed a strange surreal component that explored not only the technical side to drawing, but also my own imagination.

TP: It seems a lot of them are quite abstract, what kind of message were you trying to deliver?
Each drawing is a game between my imagination and the viewer. I am interested in generating an open interpretation where each person can create their own stories or answers. Maybe I can say that my drawings are small lies about existence, the world and the cosmos, curious situations that do not exist but that come to life through the pencil.

TP: There are some numbers and dots in some of the drawings, why?
I am a great admirer of scientific illustration. Those numbers or the abbreviation “Fig” ( figure) are very common in this type of illustration to describe an image or its characteristics. I like to think that my Dibujos are a curious cabinet and to treat them in a scientific manner allows the image to gain veracity and seriousness.

TP: What do you enjoy the most in drawing?
The challenge. For me each drawing is a world that requires time, effort and dedication.
No matter how long you’ve drawn or skills you have, facing the empty paper is always a challenge.

TP: Why drawing by hands not digital?
For me it is a romantic affair. The hand is the fundamental tool of the artist. I am not against digital work, but I feel that using hands there is real honesty, no pretensions.
That is why when I finish a drawing or someone appreciates it then I get so happy, because it comes from my hands and my pencils. I have great respect for the hand and its ability to create, which is perhaps the reason why they appear regularly in my drawings.

TP: Are you planning to keep the Dibujos series going?
JO: I try to draw every day, at least to build a satisfying picture. I don’t always succeed – behind a picture that I like are several attempts and failures. Each drawing is a new challenge. Drawing is never easy, even if done regularly. The series is still under construction, as every day I think of a new drawing or some variations for one that I have already done.

TP: What next?
I hope soon to get the title as Master of Arts , probably next semester. I have a couple of exhibitions in Colombia next year and possibly another in France. I really never wonder what’s next. Drawing and art are volatile fields that changes all the time. But I’m sure that whatever is to come will find me drawing.