Achieving a sense of rightness, even in the most uncertain circumstances, is the motivating concept behind my sculpture. The work is figurative but is not about the figure. I consider myself an expressionist, as I am more interested in communicating an abstract feeling or idea than an actual image. I use recognizable forms to evoke emotions and stimulate sensations.Discovery, movement, balance, harmony and security are recurring themes. Understanding one's truest desires and choosing to pursue them is a common thread. But those viewing my sculpture will create their own narrative based on their personal experiences and imagination. I aim to establish the mood and atmosphere that allows this to take place. In contemporary society, self-awareness and self-satisfaction have become almost an obsession. The aggressive pursuit of money and material well-being has been the socially accepted standard defining success. But with an accompanying sense of purposelessness, and the deterioration of the quality of life for many, an increasing number of people are searching for a more spiritual definition of achievement and a deeper meaning to life.
My work deals with the journey of attaining this greater sense of equilibrium. I touch on the moment of stepping into the unknown and doing so willingly. Based on personal experience, I am convinced that one's mental outlook determines one's outlook on life. A change in viewpoint can transform even a desperate situation into one full of opportunity. I worked in international finance for fifteen years, but abandoned that life. As a result, my work is largely autobiographical. It derives its sources from moments of significant and radical change, brought about not by any modification in material circumstances, but by a simple change in thought and the way circumstances are perceived.There is much debate in the art world as to what constitutes valid or high art. Often the egos involved determine the tone of the debate. Irony, cleverness and negativity are promoted as being profound, intelligent and realistic. In most cases the dialogue is inward looking, engaging only an elite group that considers the general public as too naive to understand the important nuances at issue. I find this overly critical debate irrelevant. I am interested in the individual, general observer and want to communicate with him. As an artist, I feel it is essential to try to bring a sense of joy to those who view my work by making what I hope are beautiful objects. In this way the work may contribute to improving someone's existence, even if only fleetingly.
Thomas Ostenberg was born in Nebraska, USA, grew up on a ranch in Colorado and subsequently spent his teenage years between Colorado and Florida. At an early age he learned of the grace, form and even the psychology of the animals he was surrounded by, both domestic and wild.He travelled extensively throughout the USA, Canada, South America and Western Europe before studying languages at Principia College, Illinois followed by earning an MBA degree from Stanford University in 1975. He then entered the international financial world where he became a Vice President of Citibank in Brazil and Spain. In 1986 he went freelance as an independent International Financial Consultant.
At age 40, Thomas Ostenberg exchanged his successful financial career for art school. In 1994 he earned his BFA from the Kansas City Art Institute, and in 1997, his MA from the Royal College of Art in London, England, aided by a grant from the Henry Moore Foundation.Now a full time sculptor, he claims his biggest break was "discovering that I wanted to be an artist". Ostenberg maintains this change was precipitated by "fifteen years of seeing great art on three continents". In particular he cites the major Velazquez exhibition in Madrid and a visit to the Rodin Museum in Paris.
He works primarily in bronze. The power and durability of his finished pieces belie his approach to the medium, which is quite fluid and intuitive. "Sometimes I will have a bit of clay or wax in my hand, and, by playing with this lump, some image or other just begins to appear."For his large scale works he will have a specific image in mind to represent an emotion he hopes to convey. He will start with a steel armature that is covered with an oil-based clay. Then, using his hands and later, clay tools, he defines the image. "I alternate between building up and carving back until I achieve a result I am satisfied with."
Thomas Ostenberg’s sculptures explore the theme of motion and balance. His work reflects his personal search for emotional and spiritual equilibrium. For him, the work "touches on the moment of stepping into the unknown and doing so willingly."Ostenberg's sculpture has been called joyful and magical, words not often applied to contemporary art. The surfaces of these bronze sculptures communicate a tangible love of process. The works contain human figures and/or frequently horses on a variety of ladders, wheels and spheres, performing acrobatics and balancing acts much like those associated with the circus. This is not to say, however, that his sculptures are frivolous or trivial. On the contrary, what may at first appear only as a feat intended to entertain is, at a deeper level, a wonderous allegory full of hope, strength, stamina, determination. The titles of Ostenberg's sculptures alone - Notion of Place, Truth and Consequence, In Pursuit of a Clearer Understanding, Mind Over Matter, A Question of Perspective, Matter Don't Matter - give a sense of positive action that results in personal and, therefore, public benefit, and an understanding of life as a gift rather than a predicament. The sculptures themselves depict feats of enormous physical control and extraordinary mental focus. To view them is to experience triumph over contemporary malaises such as nihilism and despondency, to receive a message of calm amidst chaos - and ultimately, to feel joy in the pursuit of knowledge and truth.
He is represented by galleries in the UK, throughout the United States and Europe. He divides his time with his two sons between Santa Fe, New Mexico and London. He also retains strong ties with Brazil and France where they maintain homes.