February 1, 2014

Portfolio: David Ostrowski (It's about something. It's about nothing.)


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.

 David Ostrowski, F (Love), 2013; acrylic, lacquer, paper and cardboard on canvas, wood94 7/8 x 75 1/4 inches.

David Ostrowski, F (Gee Vaucher), 2013; acrylic and lacquer on canvas, wood94 7/8 x 75 1/4 inches.

 David Ostrowski, F (Don’t Honk), 2013; lacquer on canvas, wood; 94 7/8 x 75 1/4 inches.

 David Ostrowski, F (dann lieber nein), 2013, acrylic, lacquer and paper on canvas, wood; 94 7/8 x 75 1/4 inches.

David Ostrowski, F (Lieber Nackt als Gef├╝hlsleben zeigen), 2013; acrylic, paper and cardboard on burlap, wood; 94 7/8 x 75 1/4 inches.

 David Ostrowski, F (Yes or let's say no), 2013; paper and cardboard on burlap, wood; 94 7/8 x 75 1/4 inches.

David Ostrowski, F (Garth Brooks), 2013, acrylic and lacquer on canvas, wood; 94 7/8 x 75 1/4 inches.

David Ostrowski, F (Jet Grill), 2013, acrylic, lacquer, spray-paint on canvas, wood; 94 7/8 x 75 1/4 inches.

David Ostrowski, F (Just do it), 2013, acrylic and lacquer on canvas, wood, 94 7/8 x 75 1/4 inches.

David Ostrowski, F (Musik ist Scheisse), 2013; acrylic, and lacquer on canvas, wood; 94 7/8 x 75 1/4 inches.

David Ostrowski, F (Musik ist Scheisse), 2013; acrylic and lacquer on canvas, wood
94 7/8 x 75 1/4 inches.

David Ostrowski, F (phone call), 2013; acrylic and lacquer on canvas, wood; 94 7/8 x 75 1/4 inches.

David Ostrowski, F (A thing is a thing in a whole which it’s not), 2013; acrylic and lacquer on canvas94 1/2 x 74 3/4 inches.


David Ostrowski, F (Deutsche), 2013; acrylic, tape and paper on canvas, wood; 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.

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12 comments:

Fine post. If Ostrowski's work appears enervated, it's hardly enervating. He has taken what is by now itself a tired cliche--the death of painting--and used it, paradoxically, to energize the discipline. The work appears too refined and heavily worked to constitute casualism, but it seems related in that both approaches draw heavily on the artist's quotidian fortunes and struggles, his real-time mood and motivation.

Nice; reminds me of the Robert Ryman approach. Nothing new, of course, but always fresh (to me, anyway).

If this is not derivative, then nothing is. This kind of work is a rampant plague within abstraction today. Call it whatever the hell you want (casualism, ab-ex rehash, mannerism etc) but it really is a dime a dozen. Its total hipster trash and Saltz was right to call this fluff non-sense out. As casual non-chalant as it looks, its really trying too damn hard and I aint buyin it....no one should.

The paintings are thin. It feels like a group of single notes played at once to make a quick orchestral arrangement. Maybe this type of painting reflects the the internet age in general, we can digest so many images so quickly now. Why make slow paintings when no one looks for more then a second? I really love these though, they make me want to make more things. Great paintings.

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aww, now I get it! Its like Robert Ryman, but not as good and twice as pretentious. Work like this will always be in the shadow of Richard Aldrich or Joe Bradley or any number of other artists who do this thing twice as good. If youre not gonna make your own work, at least make it good.

Love his paintings! That dude is turning the painting aspect upside down.

HE IS THE BEST OUT THERE AT THE MOMENT, PERIOD.

Robert P- you been smoking a little bit too much of the O. I want to hear you back up the silly claim that this mediocre (at best) cat is "THE BEST OUT THERE, PERIOD." These paintings are watered fetishized hoome decor. Dude needs to show at Restoration Hardware...fore real!~

Yes, David, truly one of the decades greats. Some emotions for once, everyone focusing horribly only on aesthetics with the worst subject matter (if it even has any at all).
At least someone is trying to progress art instead of trying to copy BS Juxtapose 'street artists' that get praised for fantasy bs.
Finally the quality of the 1950's-70's (Rothko, De Kooning, Rauschenberg, Newman, etc...) is coming back through Dave & a handful of others.