David Ostrowski

David Ostrowski

 

David Ostrowski (*1981) has produced a body of work that revolves around the idea of the zero point—a place of nothingness or the beyond of cultural and painterly codes. Ostrowski’s paintings are products of a desire to eliminate painterly knowledge. They are expressions of the idea that in producing notions of emptiness, one also grapples with and comments on the history of painting. The Cologne-based artist’s light-handed and complex approaches to the non-motif open the space of the canvas to unique breaches of perception and an unexpected freedom of seeing.

 

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Even the materials used in Ostrowski’s work testify to a striking attempt at reduction. He uses little more than canvas, primer, emulsion, spray paint and wooden strips along with found pieces of paper, cardboard, adhesive tape or textile. His largely monochrome works are created in an artistic process that relies on both an instinctive refusal of pictorial conventions and the methodical use of coincidences and errors. Paint traces only sometimes take on a symbolic character—as a spray-painted circle of color, for example, a hint of a geometric form or a crooked smile. More recent paintings show remnants of tape with the word “fragile,” parts of the painted logo of a German hardware store or pictogram-like owl motifs that have been partially or completely painted over. A closer look at many of the paintings reveals traces of dirt, footprints, studio detritus. Some have a smooth, radiant white background. Others look like a meditation on the color red. Still others are not even primed.

Ostrowski’s minimal, gestural works abandon both the traditions of figuration and the conventions of abstraction. Their tension derives from an irreducible pictorial uncertainty. The painter consistently refuses to comply with the usual criteria for creating value in contemporary art: material value, painterly bravura, conceptual references, institutional critique, ties to intellectual discourse, or forced self-referentiality. His works thwart not only any desire for interpretation, but often even the attempt to classify or catalogue them. Many of his paintings are titled F, for instance, a letter that some commentators have interpreted to stand for “failure” or Fehlermalerei (“error painting”).

Ostrowski’s paintings occasionally recall those by later Abstract Expressionists, the scalpel works of Lucio Fontana, Robert Rauschenberg’s White Paintings, or the silkscreen graffiti paintings of Christopher Wool. But with these allusions, Ostrowski primarily addresses their failure, striking a balance between admitting the futility of any artistic endeavor and the need to continue making art nonetheless.

Paradoxically, Ostrowski’s work provokes an extraordinary perceptual experience aimed at the sublime. His paintings attest to a rigorous self-emptying, an opening-up to the emptiness of the canvas and the emptiness of the world. Operating on the borderline between apathy and seduction, they show that aesthetic experience emerges in precisely those places where preconceived attributions of meaning no longer apply. They seem to express that you can only really begin to see and understand when you actually no longer understand anything.
 

 

David Ostrowski & Michail Pirgelis: To Lose
Leopold-Hoesch-Museum, Düren, March 6–May 29, 2016

Works
David Ostrowski
David Ostrowski
I want to die Forever
Installation view, Kunstraum Innsbruck, Innsbruck, April 11–June 13, 2015

David Ostrowski
I want to die Forever
Installation view, Kunstraum Innsbruck, Innsbruck, April 11–June 13, 2015
Photo: Ben Hermanni

David Ostrowski
David Ostrowski
F (Landscape), 2016

David Ostrowski
F (Landscape), 2016
Lacquer on canvas
275 × 220 cm
108 1/4 × 86 5/8 inches

More views
David Ostrowski
David Ostrowski
Political Paintings
Installation view, Sundogs, Paris, September 29–October 27, 2019

David Ostrowski
Political Paintings
Installation view, Sundogs, Paris, September 29–October 27, 2019
Photo: Romain Darnaud

David Ostrowski
David Ostrowski
Männer die Pfeifen (Political Paintings), 2019

David Ostrowski
Männer die Pfeifen (Political Paintings), 2019
Acrylic and lacquer on canvas, wood
201 × 151 cm (framed)
79 1/8 × 59 1/2 inches (framed)

More views
David Ostrowski
David Ostrowski
Jetzt noch schlechter abgeschnitten (Political Paintings), 2009 / 2019

David Ostrowski
Jetzt noch schlechter abgeschnitten (Political Paintings), 2009 / 2019
Acrylic and lacquer on canvas, wood
201 × 151 cm (framed)
79 1/8 × 59 1/2 inches (framed)

More views
David Ostrowski
David Ostrowski
Relax / Outline Paintings
Installation view, Siegburger Strasse 235, June 1

David Ostrowski
Relax / Outline Paintings
Installation view, Siegburger Strasse 235, Cologne, June 1, 2013

David Ostrowski
David Ostrowski
F (Capture the dream), 2013

David Ostrowski
F (Capture the dream), 2013
Oil, lacquer, paper, cardboard and cotton on canvas, wood
241 × 181 cm
94,88 × 71,26 inches

More views
David Ostrowski
David Ostrowski
F (Wenn ich mich langweilen will, fahre ich in einen Stau), 2016

David Ostrowski
F (Wenn ich mich langweilen will, fahre ich in einen Stau), 2016
Paper and lacquer on linen, wood
241 × 191 cm (framed)
94 7/8 × 75 1/8 inches (framed)

More views
David Ostrowski
David Ostrowski
BEI MIR GEHT ES IN DEN KELLER HOCH
Installation view, Blueproject Foundation, Barcelona, July 14–October 1, 2017

David Ostrowski
BEI MIR GEHT ES IN DEN KELLER HOCH
Installation view, Blueproject Foundation, Barcelona, July 14–October 1, 2017
Photo: Hans-Georg Gaul

David Ostrowski
David Ostrowski
BEI MIR GEHT ES IN DEN KELLER HOCH
Installation view, Blueproject Foundation, Barcelona, July 14–October 1, 2017

David Ostrowski
BEI MIR GEHT ES IN DEN KELLER HOCH
Installation view, Blueproject Foundation, Barcelona, July 14–October 1, 2017
Photo: Hans-Georg Gaul

David Ostrowski
David Ostrowski
BEI MIR GEHT ES IN DEN KELLER HOCH
Installation view, Blueproject Foundation, Barcelona, July 14–October 1, 2017

David Ostrowski
BEI MIR GEHT ES IN DEN KELLER HOCH
Installation view, Blueproject Foundation, Barcelona, July 14–October 1, 2017
Photo: Hans-Georg Gaul

David Ostrowski
David Ostrowski
F (Desktop II), 2019

David Ostrowski
F (Desktop II), 2019
Acrylic, lacquer, paper and cardboard on canvas, wood
276 × 221 cm
108 5/8 × 87 inches

More views
David Ostrowski
David Ostrowski
F (N), 2019

David Ostrowski
F (N), 2019
Acrylic and und lacquer on canvas, wood
301 × 211 cm
118 1/2 × 83 inches

More views
David Ostrowski
3 Zimmer, Küche, Bad
Installation view, BRAUNSFELDER, Cologne, September 5–December 7, 2019

3 Zimmer, Küche, Bad
Installation view, BRAUNSFELDER, Cologne, September 5 – December 7, 2019

David Ostrowski
David Ostrowski
The F Word
Installation view, ARKEN - Museum of Modern Art, Ishøj, February 28–June 14, 2015

David Ostrowski
The F Word
Installation view, ARKEN – Museum of Modern Art, Ishøj, February 28–June 14, 2015

David Ostrowski
David Ostrowski
F (Taktik an der Theke), 2017

David Ostrowski
F (Taktik an der Theke), 2017
Lacquer and paper on canvas, wood
71 × 51 cm
28 × 20 inches

Details
David Ostrowski

David Ostrowski
I want to die Forever
Installation view, Kunstraum Innsbruck, Innsbruck, April 11–June 13, 2015
Photo: Ben Hermanni

David Ostrowski
I want to die Forever
Installation view, Kunstraum Innsbruck, Innsbruck, April 11–June 13, 2015
David Ostrowski

David Ostrowski
F (Landscape), 2016
Lacquer on canvas
275 × 220 cm
108 1/4 × 86 5/8 inches

David Ostrowski
F (Landscape), 2016
David Ostrowski
David Ostrowski

David Ostrowski
F (Landscape), 2016

David Ostrowski
F (Landscape), 2016
David Ostrowski

David Ostrowski
Political Paintings
Installation view, Sundogs, Paris, September 29–October 27, 2019
Photo: Romain Darnaud

David Ostrowski
Political Paintings
Installation view, Sundogs, Paris, September 29–October 27, 2019
David Ostrowski

David Ostrowski
Männer die Pfeifen (Political Paintings), 2019
Acrylic and lacquer on canvas, wood
201 × 151 cm (framed)
79 1/8 × 59 1/2 inches (framed)

David Ostrowski
Männer die Pfeifen (Political Paintings), 2019
David Ostrowski
David Ostrowski

David Ostrowski
Männer die Pfeifen (Political Paintings), 2019

David Ostrowski
Männer die Pfeifen (Political Paintings), 2019
David Ostrowski

David Ostrowski
Jetzt noch schlechter abgeschnitten (Political Paintings), 2009 / 2019
Acrylic and lacquer on canvas, wood
201 × 151 cm (framed)
79 1/8 × 59 1/2 inches (framed)

David Ostrowski
Jetzt noch schlechter abgeschnitten (Political Paintings), 2009 / 2019
David Ostrowski
David Ostrowski

David Ostrowski
Jetzt noch schlechter abgeschnitten (Political Paintings), 2009 / 2019

David Ostrowski
Jetzt noch schlechter abgeschnitten (Political Paintings), 2009 / 2019
David Ostrowski

David Ostrowski
Relax / Outline Paintings
Installation view, Siegburger Strasse 235, Cologne, June 1, 2013

David Ostrowski
Relax / Outline Paintings
Installation view, Siegburger Strasse 235, June 1
David Ostrowski

David Ostrowski
F (Capture the dream), 2013
Oil, lacquer, paper, cardboard and cotton on canvas, wood
241 × 181 cm
94,88 × 71,26 inches

David Ostrowski
F (Capture the dream), 2013
David Ostrowski
David Ostrowski

David Ostrowski
F (Capture the dream), 2013

David Ostrowski
F (Capture the dream), 2013
David Ostrowski

David Ostrowski
F (Wenn ich mich langweilen will, fahre ich in einen Stau), 2016
Paper and lacquer on linen, wood
241 × 191 cm (framed)
94 7/8 × 75 1/8 inches (framed)

David Ostrowski
F (Wenn ich mich langweilen will, fahre ich in einen Stau), 2016
David Ostrowski
David Ostrowski

David Ostrowski
F (Wenn ich mich langweilen will, fahre ich in einen Stau), 2016

David Ostrowski
F (Wenn ich mich langweilen will, fahre ich in einen Stau), 2016
David Ostrowski

David Ostrowski
BEI MIR GEHT ES IN DEN KELLER HOCH
Installation view, Blueproject Foundation, Barcelona, July 14–October 1, 2017
Photo: Hans-Georg Gaul

David Ostrowski
BEI MIR GEHT ES IN DEN KELLER HOCH
Installation view, Blueproject Foundation, Barcelona, July 14–October 1, 2017
David Ostrowski

David Ostrowski
BEI MIR GEHT ES IN DEN KELLER HOCH
Installation view, Blueproject Foundation, Barcelona, July 14–October 1, 2017
Photo: Hans-Georg Gaul

David Ostrowski
BEI MIR GEHT ES IN DEN KELLER HOCH
Installation view, Blueproject Foundation, Barcelona, July 14–October 1, 2017
David Ostrowski

David Ostrowski
BEI MIR GEHT ES IN DEN KELLER HOCH
Installation view, Blueproject Foundation, Barcelona, July 14–October 1, 2017
Photo: Hans-Georg Gaul

David Ostrowski
BEI MIR GEHT ES IN DEN KELLER HOCH
Installation view, Blueproject Foundation, Barcelona, July 14–October 1, 2017
David Ostrowski

David Ostrowski
F (Desktop II), 2019
Acrylic, lacquer, paper and cardboard on canvas, wood
276 × 221 cm
108 5/8 × 87 inches

David Ostrowski
F (Desktop II), 2019
David Ostrowski
David Ostrowski

David Ostrowski
F (Desktop II), 2019

David Ostrowski
F (Desktop II), 2019
David Ostrowski

David Ostrowski
F (N), 2019
Acrylic and und lacquer on canvas, wood
301 × 211 cm
118 1/2 × 83 inches

David Ostrowski
F (N), 2019
David Ostrowski
David Ostrowski

David Ostrowski
F (N), 2019

David Ostrowski
F (N), 2019
David Ostrowski

3 Zimmer, Küche, Bad
Installation view, BRAUNSFELDER, Cologne, September 5 – December 7, 2019

3 Zimmer, Küche, Bad
Installation view, BRAUNSFELDER, Cologne, September 5–December 7, 2019
David Ostrowski

David Ostrowski
The F Word
Installation view, ARKEN – Museum of Modern Art, Ishøj, February 28–June 14, 2015

David Ostrowski
The F Word
Installation view, ARKEN - Museum of Modern Art, Ishøj, February 28–June 14, 2015
David Ostrowski

David Ostrowski
F (Taktik an der Theke), 2017
Lacquer and paper on canvas, wood
71 × 51 cm
28 × 20 inches

David Ostrowski
F (Taktik an der Theke), 2017
Details
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Current and Upcoming
David Ostrowski
David Ostrowski, Tobias Spichtig

David Ostrowski
Tobias Spichtig
POGŁOS / OVERTONE
Avant-Garde Institute, Warsaw
September 18–November 28, 2020

In light of recent developments regarding the coronavirus (COVID-19), exhibitions, events and talks are subject to change.

Overtone at the Avant-Garde institute is the two artists’ first joint exhibition. In his recent paintings, titled F Atelier von oben [Studio from Above], F Schreibtisch aufgeräumt [Desk cleaned up], or F Welt von vorne [World from the Front], besides paint and lacquer in the basic colours, Ostrowski uses materials found in his studio, such as black-and-white photographs or pieces of paper and cardboard, producing a collage of linear, geometric forms based on memories of his first visit to Edward Krasiński’s studio in 2018.

Link
Exhibitions at Sprüth Magers
David Ostrowski

Any Day Now
Curated by David Ostrowski
Sophie Gogl, Behrang Karimi, Sophie Reinhold, Trevor Shimizu, Mark van Yetter
July 2–August 2, 2020
Online

Any Day Now brings together five positions in painting that evoke romantic-mystical associations and technically run counter to my works. It’s about painting that can be understood in an almost old-fashioned way and thus goes against the so-called contemporary. It’s not the computer that paints. Painting is done with a brush. It’s not about innovation, because that is the most boring part of history. It’s about the image. It’s about painting per se. It’s about painting in its purest form. This kind of painting conveys an attitude. It not only accepts failure; it allows it, invites it. Emptiness can be sensed on various meta-levels. A painting becomes exciting when it becomes self-referential. One does not go to the studio just for fun. Works were selected for the contrasts that dwell within them: light, dark, somewhat colorful. Scott Walker’s version of “Any Day Now” is the soundtrack to the show. This song is the headline and musically reflects the melancholy of the group exhibition. Walker’s deep voice is congruent with the dark atmosphere of some works. Fragility, uncertainty, disruption. There’s always this love just before the abyss: “Love will let me down.” Everything happens differently than you think it will. Suddenly everything has changed from one moment to the next. Just like that. So the title of the exhibition, Any Day Now, also serves as a title for these strange times.

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David Ostrowski
The Thin Red Line
November 28, 2018–January 19, 2019
London

The Thin Red Line is David Ostrowski’s very first solo show with Sprüth Magers in London, for which he has developed a new body of paintings and materials that serve as a meditation on the colour red.

The series was begun earlier this year as part of a new red phase in Ostrowski’s practice, which has focused previously on minimal interventions of blue spray paint and applied elements on largely white or neutral canvases. The colour red had appeared in Ostrowski’s work as early as 2009, but it has taken nearly ten years for him to return to the colour exclusively.

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David Ostrowski
David Ostrowski

Michail Pirgelis, David Ostrowski
Nothing Happened
November 15–December 23, 2016
Los Angeles

Art knows no zero point. It has no concept of an outside place, no indefinite expression; it is impossible to represent ‘nothing’. French cultural theorist Roland Barthes was the first to point this out. According to Barthes, every work carries with it the illusions of the culture in which it was made. The mesh of everyday myths is unavoidable; art history’s thicket of codes impenetrable. But for all its impossibility, the desire for this kind of zero point, the yearning to see without codes and connotations, remains essential. We all long for it. Astonishingly, the works of young Cologne artists Michail Pirgelis and David Ostrowski diligently strive toward this precise way of seeing.

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Press

Hairs and Teeth: David Ostrowski in conversation with Tenzing Barshee
Mousse, interview by Tenzing Barshee, Fall 2019

David Ostrowski at Sundogs
Contemporary Art Daily, October 24, 2019

Kölner Künstler: David Ostrowski
Weltkunst, April 2019

Die rote Linie und das Bauhaus: Zu Gast im Atelier von David Ostrowski
Kunstforum International, interview by Anneli Botz, November 2018

On rejecting professionalism: An interview with painter David Ostrowski 
The Creative Independent, article by Julian Brimmers, March 15, 2018

David Ostrowski: Arken Museum of Modern Art
Modern Painters, article by Ana Finel Honigman, July/August 2015

Formal Affairs
Frieze, article by David Geers, February 20, 2015

Biography

David Ostrowski (*1981, Cologne) lives in Cologne. Selected solo exhibitions include Jir Sandel, Copenhagen, Avant-Garde Institute, Warsaw (with Tobias Spichtig) and Lady Helen, London (all forthcoming 2020), Leeahn Gallery, Seoul (2020), Sundogs, Paris (2019), Piece Unique Cologne (2019), Sprüth Magers, London (2018), Halle 9 Kirowwerk, Leipzig and Blueproject Foundation, Barcelona (both 2017), Leopold-Hoesch-Museum, Dueren with Michail Pirgelis (2016), ARKEN Museum of Modern Art, Copenhagen and Kunstraum Innsbruck (both 2015), Rubell Family Collection, Miami and Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Turin (both 2014). Selected group exhibitions include Akademie der Künste Berlin (forthcoming 2021), Triest, New York and Galerie Bärbel Grässlin, Frankfurt (both forthcoming 2020), Pio Pico, Los Angeles (2020), Galerie Bernhard, Zurich, DuMont Kunsthalle, Cologne and Braunsfelder, Cologne (all 2019), Aishti Foundation, Beirut (2018), Museum of Modern Art, Gunma (2017), M Woods Museum, Beijing (2015), Halle für Kunst & Medien, Graz and Institute of Contemporary Arts, London (both 2014).

Education
2004–09 Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, Dusseldorf (Albert Oehlen)
2009 Akademiebrief and Meisterschüler
Awards, Grants and Fellowships
2012 Atelierstipendium Kölnischer Kunstverein und Imhoff-Stiftung, Cologne
Public Collections
Aishti Collection, Beirut
Arken Museum Collection, Copenhagen
Braunsfelder Family Collection, Cologne
Charles Riva Collection, Brussels
Colección Jumex, Mexico City
Danjuma Collection, London
De la Cruz Collection, Miami

Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Torino

Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles
Louis Vuitton Collection, Paris

Marciano Art Foundation, Los Angeles
Moderna Museet, Stockholm

Museum of Old and New Art, Berriedale
Olbricht Collection, Berlin
Rubell Family Collection, Miami
Sammlung Goetz, Munich
Sammlung Scharpff, Bonn
Taguchi Art Collection, Tokyo
Tel Aviv Museum, Tel Aviv
Zabludowicz Collection, London