The Artist Interview: Ruby Osorio

Pecola, 95 1/2 x 84 1/2 in.

Pecola, 95 1/2 x 84 1/2 in.

Emily Waldorf interviews Los Angeles based artist Ruby Osorio, whose ethereal drawings and works on paper were just featured in the exhibition, 20 Years Ago Today, at the Japanese American National Museum.  Ruby is represented by Cherry and Martin.  

EW:  Please tell us about your beautiful works on paper.  What types of materials do you use?

RO:  The materials that I use in my work are pretty straight forward.  I generally work on watercolor paper that is stretched over wood panels and then trimmed for framing.  I also work with gouache, watercolor, acrylic inks and in the past I did a lot of embroidery on paper.

EW:  Please tell us about the creatures in your work, are they from dreams or imagination?  Are they meant to be ambiguous or clearly read by the viewer?

RO:  The content of the work is derived from my imagination, from literature, from other artists’ references.  The “meaning” that people derive from the work is definitely meant to be ambiguous.  I find it more interesting to hear what people interpret in the work as it says more about the viewer than it does about me.

EW:  How long does it take to create one of your pieces?  Do you have an idea of what you are creating before you start or is it a more impulsive exploratory process?

RO:  The time it takes to make a piece depends on the size and complexity, and the amount of detail involved.  I can do a small piece in an evening or a large piece in three to four weeks.  The process for making the work is improvisational.  I may start with a general idea or one singular reference or photograph and then I find elements in the painting accumulate one by one.  Other times I will create a small scale collage which I then transfer to a painting.  I think its the intuitive nature of searching for images that keeps the work interesting.

EW:  Any cool stories that you would like to share about being an artist in Los Angeles?

RO:  I think the coolest thing about being an artist in L.A. is there’s something for everyone.  Whatever your interests you can find your niche in the city.  And compared to New York, the sunshine’s much better.

EW:  Would you describe your studio as neat or cluttered?

RO:   I like keeping [my studio] neat and well organized at least before and after I finish working since my thoughts tend to go all over the place.  In the process my environment may get a little chaotic but I like to know that everything has its right place.

Troublesome Bouquet, 45 x 45 in.

Troublesome Bouquet, 45 x 45 in.

EW:  How did you get started?  Are you self-taught or did you go to art school?

RO:  I started showing professionally as somewhat of a fluke back in 2001.  At the time I was experimenting with printmaking but I was also doing these small 8 1/2 x 11 inch drawings which I had no intention of showing.  A friend saw them by accident one day and loved them.  He asked if I’d like to show 50 of them at a gallery space he was running.  I was tentative but said yes and to my surprise the show was a hit.  It sold out and I started getting opportunities to show in different spaces and was ultimately picked up by the gallery Cherry and Martin which back then was known as Cherrydelosreyes.

EW:  Please name one dead and one living artist that you admire.

RO:  I admire all artists simply because it is not easy being one, but to name two I’d have to say for a dead artist, Picabia, for his versatility and his aversion to developing a “style.”  He did so many things, portraits, abstractions, poetry.  As for a living artist, it would be Wangechi Mutu.  I think her work is absolutely amazing and compelling in all aspects, the materials and her innovative approach to collage as well as the depth of the female mythology she’s created.  I think she’s made an incredible contribution to contemporary art.

EW:  What else inspires you?  Do you listen to music when you work?  If so, what?  Do you prefer being alone during the creative process or do you like to bounce around your ideas with others?

RO: The other thing that inspires me is reading, and as for music right now its Emiliana Torrini, Cut Copy, Tv on the Radio.  As for the creative process, it is mostly a private one.  When I’m actually working on a piece I do it alone, but in between I’m writing and bouncing ideas off a close group of friends.

EW:  Please tell us about the work at your recent museum exhibition at the Japanese American National Museum.  If readers are interested in acquiring your work, who should they contact?

RO:  The work in the show at the Japanese American National Museum was a departure for me since I usually work on a white background.  They were mostly rendered in black acrylic ink along with watercolor and were influenced by a novel, Nightwood, written in 1932 by Djuna Barnes.  The characters are dark and tragic, but the language is poetic and complex, thus these works emerged.  At the time I was thinking about romantic love, loss, mourning.  If anyone is interested in the work they can contact Cherry and Martin or myself via email at [email protected].


Intoxicated only for the time with little remorse behind... 42 1/4 x 33 in.


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