Watch and Listen

Le Guerrier, la Colombe et la Chouette [The Warrior, the Dove and the Owl] by Alfonso Ossorio

An American expressionist painter of Filipino origin, Alfonso Ossorio stands out from the other artists of the era through his completely new colourist and matterist dual dimension. Le Guerrier, la Colombe et la Chouette, painted in the mid-1950s, highlights his talent as an established painter by the chromatic energy that emanates from it.

Le Guerrier, la Colombe et la Chouette [The Warrior, the Dove and the Owl]
Oil on canvas
253.5 x 168 cm
© Fondation Gandur pour l’Art, Genève. Photographer: Sandra Pointet © Ossorio Foundation

Narrated by Adeline Lafontaine, assistant curator Fine Arts collection

This painting strikes us with its explosion of shimmering colours, spread over its entire surface. The presence of linear strokes, coupled with vertical streaks, accentuates the tone of its colours by lending them more depth. From this overlay of thick layers of paint, Alfonso Ossorio composed an immaterial universe in which three emblems stand out. At the centre is a standing warrior whose face is surrounded by a bright halo, like an aura. He is raising a hatchet and appears to be holding a shield horizontally, to protect himself. Two symbols of Virtues sit by his side: Peace, through the dove at the top left, and Wisdom, with the owl depicted at the bottom centre. Guided by his totem birds, this warrior is thus strengthened by the radiance and generosity of his heart. He is surrounded by a world populated by powerful, invisible forces, embodied by a multitude of moving lines. Alfonso Ossorio had an animistic view of the world, steeped in the culture of the Philippines where he was born.