Ossian Ward (Art Critic)

Ossian Ward is Content Director at Lisson Gallery (London/New York/Shanghai) and a writer on contemporary art. As well as leading the gallery’s communications and publishing teams he was co-curator of the major off-site exhibition, ‘Everything at Once’ and editor of the gallery’s 50th anniversary book, ‘ARTIST | WORK | LISSON’ (both 2017). Until 2013, he was the chief art critic and Visual Arts Editor at Time Out London for over six years and has contributed to magazines such as Art in America, Art + Auction, World of Interiors, Esquire, The News Statesman and Wallpaper, as well as newspapers including the Evening Standard, The Guardian, the Observer, The Times and The Independent on Sunday. Formerly editor of ArtReview and the V&A Magazine, he has also worked at The Art Newspaper and edited a biennial publication, The Artists’ Yearbook, for Thames & Hudson from 2005-2010. His book, titled Ways of Looking: How to Experience Contemporary Art was published by Laurence King in 2014. A sequel, Look Again: How to Experience the Old Masters will be published by Thames & Hudson in 2019.

April 26, 2019

Chapter 1: The studio – exploring the mind of the artist from Caspar David Friedrich to Spencer Finch

An artist contemplates a blank canvas or a white piece of paper in the studio or at a table, perhaps waiting for a memory or some inspiration to stimulate that first mark. What follows is an insight into either their viewpoint of the world or the inner workings of the artistʼs mind at that moment. Either way or whatever the impetus behind that initial gesture, the pristine surface and the bounds of the blank support are there to be broken through, in order to begin creating a window to another reality.

The rectilinear frame of a painting mimics that of a window, waiting to be filled in or opened up. The two-dimensional panel can be seen as an aperture to escape from or to burrow into and hide, while the lack of transparent panes of glass means both artist and viewer are required to insert or intuit their own vision of what lies on or behind the picture plane.