Josette Urso: Making the Complex, Simple

I HAVE WATCHED the work of Josette Urso evolve for almost 20 years. When we first met she was making complex collage pieces. Made of hundreds of tiny elements, they coalesced into a whole image vastly greater than the sum of its parts. She then took the perverse step of making drawings of the collages and showing the two next to each other. Art imitates art.  I loved these pieces. Sly, beautiful and fully realized in their conceit- they worked. When I next saw Josette’s work she had made a radical move and become a plein air painter, wandering the locales of fabulous spots from Ireland to Italy, she observed and painted the natural world in an Impressionistic manner. Like an ever mutating  organism (and I mean this as a compliment) Josette has taken her interest in the recording of the natural world into a new realm that, although I’m not sure I can pin down in words, moves me greatly. These new paintings seem less a meditation on nature and more a love affair with paint, color, form and line. Related to the tradition of post-war abstraction they are beautiful and intelligent. The luscious and loving application of paint harkens to the best of Abstract Expressionism. But the content feels very contemporary. An artist of few words, she lets the paintings tell the story.


Josette Urso -SNOWFLY, 20 x 16, oil on panel 2012

Josette Urso- BLUE, 46 x 36 oil on canvas 2012

“I paint in the studio and outdoors, always working directly and urgently from my immediate environment. My paintings are “moment-to-moment” extrapolations where the contrasts and cross-fertilizations are cumulative, non-linear, free flowing and interpretive. I deal with paint and space as a malleable substance, which I manipulate acrobatically in a kind of gymnasium of mark making governed by intuitive leaps of scale, color, and wayward geometry. For me, painting parallels the act of seeing and is the most direct link to private time with the physical world. Working from life, I strive to discover and engage the known as well as the unknown in unforeseen ways.”

Josette Urso- ButtonUp, 20 x 16 oil on panel, 2012

Josette Urso-Terrazzo 20 x 16, oil on panel 2012

Josette Urso- CHESTNUT, 48 x 36 oil on canvas 2021

To me, each of these paintings  tells an  intimate story, one that is different for each viewer who sees them. And that, my friends, is some good storytelling.

For more of Josette’s work, please take a look at her website-

About Melissa Stern

Born to mammalian parents, Melissa learned to run with the gazelles and throw a javelin like a pro while still a wee babe. She began to make arty things at a young age which eventually made her virtually unemployable. The world is often too much with her, but she steadfastly drinks only one cup of coffee a day. For more fun facts please visit her web site-
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2 Responses to Josette Urso: Making the Complex, Simple

  1. We’re happy to say that you can see Josette Urso’s work through July 26th at 110 CHURCH | gallery in Old City, Philadelphia. She will be giving a talk on wednesday, July 11, 2012 at 6 pm.

    You can find out more about the talk and RSVP here:

    More about the exhibition:

    110 CHURCH | gallery
    110 Church Street
    Philadelphia, PA 19106

  2. FranT says:

    Gorgeous work! Great post.

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