Julio develops a career as an artist

“I never painted before…in prison I made 60 pieces of art” says Julio

With no prior experience of painting, Julio Osorio became a prolific artist in prison, producing 60 paintings, one of which is currently being exhibited in London’s prestigious Southbank Centre until 30 November 2014. 

Attending the Koestler Trust exhibition launch just a week after leaving prison, Julio, said: “It feels great to be in the exhibition and to go to the opening night. It is nice to see my work being appreciated and to look at other people’s work.”

With help from PET, Julio was able to buy paints which he used to produce original works of art on canvasses made from recycled old prison sheets. The 43-year old says that during his two and a half year sentence, art helped him to cope:

“I had never painted before but from my very first art lesson in prison, I dived straight in. I didn’t want to waste my time and art helped me to get my mind off where I was. It was very therapeutic. I found I didn’t think about anything else apart from what’s in front of me, so I could completely disconnect myself from the environment,” he says.

Julio’s work is full of colour and drawn from memories of his childhood in Colombia as well as surrealist paintings from his imagination. His painting ‘Inner Peace’ (above right) highlights the conflicting thoughts and emotions he had in prison; shown by the cats in different poses and the darkness of his cell contrasting with a beam of light, representing positivity. He says his daughter is proud of the collection he has produced and he is planning a visit to see the painting with his whole family. 

Now as he settles back into his community, Julio hopes art will give him a new career and an income. He is being supported by a working artist, as part of a year-long mentoring programme run by Koestler. He also has experience of working in the creative industry, before he went to prison Julio was an established photojournalist and video editor for 10 years and has a degree in Photography and Digital Imaging.

Julio is currently planning an exhibition to showcase his vast collection of work and is seeking a space. See more of his paintings via his Facebook or Tumblr accounts. If you can help Julio find a gallery or business where he can exhibit, contact him via: julioosorio@talktalk.net.

To see Julio's painting or the other fantastic exhibits at this year's Catching Dreams exhibition visit Spirit Level, Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre, London SE1 8XX. Daily 10am-11pm until 30 November 2014.