For “Yes or Let’s Say No,” David Ostrowski’s recent solo show at Simon Lee in London, curator Elena Brugnano wrote the following statement in which she suggests that a lack of options can provide opportunities.
David Ostrowski’s paintings are the results of a total analysis of the very nature of painting. He consistently strives to undermine composition, style and “typical gestures,” experiments with speed and imperfection. Errors are integrated into the process of pictorial composition, successful sections are painted over. Errors and coincidences are played off against each other in order to achieve unforeseen beauty. Ostrowski deletes, overwrites, layers, makes decisions. “I imagine going into the studio. A neon sign hangs on the wall, flashing the word ‘surprise’. When I ask myself, who painted my own works, I know it’s a good painting.” In the process of painting, consideration is constantly being given to which elements, even the smallest markings, could be removed or added. Ostrowski works with oil and lacquer; large areas of white dominate. Color is employed sparingly with the help of gestures that appear as unmotivated as possible. Ostrowski’s limited color palette is not something he actually prefers, but he does indeed approach this new, reduced color palette as the result of his intense analysis of this preference. Every now and then he wears blue pants. His working materials are things he finds in his studio: paper, strips of wood, newspaper, dirt. Having almost no options is considered an opportunity; even the lack of studio space is processed in the work. “Fuck painting a lot.” The music in the studio is the only emotion that gets captured on the canvas. Ostrowski’s large formats are mirrors of his own self: they depict the vast emptiness, the apparent lack of motivation, sometimes aggression, but especially beauty. What is presented to us as a result is permanent reflection. It’s about something. It’s about nothing.
Critics may consider Ostrowski’s work derivative, or perhaps enervated and empty, but Ostrowski (b. 1981, Cologne, Germany), who claims to sit around and listen to music all day, has turned emptiness and lack of motivation into his subject matter. At this point in time, death-of-painting tropes (i.e. few marks, little brushwork, limp spray paint, lots of empty canvas, and so forth) like the ones Ostrowski employs in this series, long past experimental, aren’t derivative per se, but, rather, they are part of an established painterly language, readymade and rich with metaphor. Ostrowski is referencing the idea of experimental painting rather than attempting to be experimental.
For Ostrowski, the paintings aren’t about strategy, they are about life. “The whole world and life itself is a big mistake,” Ostrowski said in a recent interview.”But, of course, the world also has its beautiful parts and, sometimes, life can be pretty fun–sometimes!”
Image at top: David Ostrowski, F (H), 2013; acrylic, lacquer, paper on canvas, wood; 94 7/8 x 75 1/4 inches.
94 7/8 x 75 1/4 inches.
I’m looking forward to checking out Ostrowski’s paintings in March at “Even the most beautiful woman ends at her feet,” his upcoming NYC solo at Oko Gallery.
2014 solo shows:
“Emotional Paintings,” Peres Projects, Berlin, DE
“Das Goldene Scheiss,” Almine Rech, Paris, FR
“Even the most beautiful woman ends at her feet,” Oko Gallery, New York, US
“David Ostrowski: Yes or Let’s Say No,” Simon Lee, London. Through January 31, 2014.
Two Coats of Paint is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution – Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. For permission to use content beyond the scope of this license, permission is required.
Two Coats of Paint is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution – Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. To use content beyond the scope of this license, permission is required.