“I believe that today, when most of what surrounds us has been created by machines, art gains an even greater importance. Art is a window into the soul and the spirit of humanity,” says Andrew Osta (born 1982), originally from Kiev, Ukraine and now living in the city of San Miguel de Allende in central Mexico. Andrew migrated to Canada in 1994 and graduated from the University of Toronto in 2005 with a degree in philosophy, specialising in the “philosophy of religion” and the “philosophy of consciousness”. He has been painting full-time since 2010.
Andrew has experimented with impressionistic landscapes, Christian iconography, indigenous belief systems of the Americas – and with these, sociable cats and lonely dogs in magical modern towns. The cultures that he has navigated have all made their way into his art at different points in time. “I paint what I love,” he says. “If I feel nostalgic about Russia, it shows in my work. Same for Mexico. I’ve been fortunate to live most of my life in places that feel very close to my heart. The Mexican influence comes into my work after 2011. You can see the paintings beginning to focus on the simpler things in life – family, pets, city streets, interesting characters, etc.”
At the beginning of his artistic journey, he explored a mix of Daliesque surrealism, 60s psychedelic patterns and old Russian Orthodox iconography. Later, he was drawn to Chagall, Matisse, Picasso, Monet and van Gogh. The surrealistic effects have faded but the influence of iconography continues. Andrew is also inspired by the community of artists in San Miguel de Allende. Notable names include Toller Cranston, Marion Perlet, Bruce Stuart and E.C. Bell.
Art, for Andrew, is mainly a place where he is able to express feelings, thoughts and perceptions for which he has “no words”. If he had to quote any book in the context of his stylistic techniques, interestingly, Andrew mentions Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina (1877) – not so much for the content as for the way it was written. The artist explains, “Consider the opening sentence of Anna Karenina: ‘Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.’ Each sentence and each paragraph in the book grabs the reader and creates interest. I look for the same effect with my art. What I paint doesn’t matter as much as how I paint it. The execution and look of the painting interests me, the subject can be secondary. There is no subject in many of my paintings, even though they are figurative. A lot of them are totally open to interpretation. This is an opposite approach from much contemporary art, where the concept or idea comes first and the visual appeal of the painting becomes unimportant. A definition of beauty that I heard recently mentioned its inexhaustibility. Sunsets, forests, oceans, mountains are beautiful because we can return to see them hundreds of times and never get tired. We can be touched the same way every time. I try to achieve that in my pictures. Even though I’ve read Anna Karenina already, and despite the fact that the story doesn’t interest me, I can enjoy the opening lines (or any lines of it, for that matter) because the way it’s written is beautiful.”
Learn more on the website www.andrewosta.com. You can connect with Andrew on Facebook (www.facebook.com/andrew.osta) and Instagram (www.instagram.com/osta_art). His work is available on Fine Art America (www.fineartamerica.com/profiles/andrew-osta) and Saatchi Art (www.saatchiart.com/spreadlove). He also has a page on Amazon where you can access his writings on spirituality (www.amazon.com/Andrew-Osta/e/B004P0HKR2).
Take a look at some of his paintings – cute, funny, mysterious – all colourful and uplifting. Images used with permission.