Manifest Destiny’s Insouciant Babes

Manifest Destiny’s Insouciant Babes

Pin-ups, high-velocity ammo, gun-metal gray: Pax Americana’s muscle

We bring guns & ammo, tits & ass. Why worry? Fat Americans. Fat cops. Buxom beauties in tiny bikinis bearing first aid.

In his third body of work since a transition from sci-fi abstractions, Sebastian Gross Ossa brings obsession to a finely articulated sense of shape and color. The high energy of Ossa’s abstract work has been channeled into his current project—canvases rich with not only irony, but also a sincere awe at the might of Americana culture, however insipid.

Ossa, originally from Chile, brings an outsider’s sense of bedazzlement to the American dream girl, with a series 25 works, 23 of which bear titles such as “Stacy loves the USA,” “Ashley loves the USA,” “Patty loves the USA” and “Linda loves the USA.” While very much in keeping with World War II pin-ups, Ossa’s girls are more bimbo than girl-next-door, and where Alberto Vargas would have achieved something mischievous, Ossa realizes something lascivious.

Ossa’s bodies are perfect, and repeated with assembly line conformity. The majority of the works in this show are sized in ready-made 24 x 18 canvases, much smaller than any previous scale he has employed. The works implicate not only an automaton army of “exotic models,” but all of those who carry these fantasy women within. Which, of course, most people do. The desire to possess the painting as well as the dream girl is intrinsically a part of Ossa’s palette.

Americans are betrayed by our own patriotism, our own sado-fascism. The plump bottoms, the ample bosoms—ah, the bounties of war. Ossa’s guns are lovely and leggy, his helicopters, shiny. There is no mystery as to the appeal of Imperialism in Ossa’s vision. We are seduced despite our disdain.

They smile at us—all just the same. Us and them. They have no regard for our happiness, or theirs, and hold out the promise of only explosive climax. Bang. That’s an anti-aircraft gun, baby.

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