David Ostrowski

David Ostrowski

 

David Ostrowski (*1981) has produced a body of work that revolves around the idea of reduction – an interplay between nothingness and poeticization 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
Photo: Ingo Kniest

David Ostrowski
So kalt kann es nicht sein / It can´t be that cold
Sprüth Magers and Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther und Franz König

David Ostrowski is known for a reduced but complex formal expression and his minimalistic abstract canvases in white or black. The artist's most recent works mark his systematic approach to another "non-color" – a conventional, commercial gray. In this new group of works, Ostrowski repeatedly paints over the primarily small-format works while exposing isolated forms, highlighting them or adding to them. A process that is also reflected in the dating of his works, some of which indicate different years of creation (e.g. 2008/2020 or 2005/2021).

Ostrowski combines the titles of the new works from his typical F and names of well-known popular musicians, such as F (Faith Hill) and F (Chris Isaak). Authors of an eminently accessible music that surrounds us in everyday life – including the artist who listens to it on CD in his studio.⁠

The catalog with texts by Fabian Schöneich and Oliver Tepel takes readers through our exhibition It can't be that cold and close to Ostrowski's work.

Link

David Ostrowski
Concerned with things as their own composition

David Ostrowski’s new body of paintings depicts a single subject: a clothes hanger. Dedicated to the series is his catalog Concerned with things as their own composition, showing on 64 pages how the artist continues his examination of abstraction.

With a conversation between Mike Egan and David Ostrowski and published by Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther und Franz König.

David Ostrowski
Photo: Ingo Kniest
Exhibitions at Sprüth Magers
David Ostrowski

David Ostrowski
Parliament
June 4–July 26, 2024
New York

In David Ostrowski’s paintings, minimal gestures create maximum tension. His spray-painted lines break apart monochromatic backgrounds, both emphasizing and negating the painting’s flatness. Surfaces sometimes built from plain house paint reveal underlayers of studio detritus that complicate the presumed emptiness of his abstract compositions. Monika Sprüth and Philomene Magers are pleased to present Parliament, Ostrowski’s first exhibition at the New York gallery, which furthers the artist’s relentless questioning of the medium of painting and its constitutive elements via the recurring figure of the owl.

Mondi Possibili
Henni Alftan, John Baldessari, Cao Fei, Thomas Demand, Thea Djordjadze, Lucy Dodd, Robert Elfgen, Peter Fischli David Weiss, Sylvie Fleury, Jenny Holzer, Donald Judd, Karen Kilimnik, Barbara Kruger, Louise Lawler, David Ostrowski, Michail Pirgelis, Sterling Ruby, Thomas Scheibitz, Andreas Schulze, Hyun-Sook Song, Robert Therrien, Rosemarie Trockel, Kaari Upson, Andrea Zittel
August 31–September 14, 2023
Seoul

Mondi Possibili highlights the interplay between art and design and explores the many ways in which experimentation with material, technique and scale can reveal the hidden narratives, quiet drama and humor in the everyday items that furnish our lives as well as our imaginations. Connected through a paradigm of the possible, all artworks on show examine familiar objects – citing, celebrating, adapting or appropriating them – offering surprising, playful or unsettling approaches that open up a range of “possible worlds.” This will be the fourth edition of Sprüth Magers’ Mondi Possibili – first titled by Pasquale Leccese – showcasing significant themes in the selected artists’ works as well as the gallery’s longstanding heritage. Its three previous iterations were presented in 1989, 2006 and 2007 in Cologne, where the gallery’s history is firmly rooted, and art and design have intersected for many decades.

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David Ostrowski
David Ostrowski

David Ostrowski
So kalt kann es nicht sein/ It can't be that cold
March 3–April 10, 2021
Berlin

It can’t be that cold is David Ostrowski’s first solo exhibition at the Berlin gallery. The artist’s most recent works show a further mining of painterly codes and non-motif, though they also mark his first systematic approach to the color gray. In an echo of his earlier white as well as black works, Ostrowski pursues the idea of total reduction and a deliberate break with painterly traditions and precepts. Once again he strives for the “zero point” of painting, fully cognizant of the fact that any attempt is bound to fail.

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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

David Ostrowski
Artforum International, Online, review by Kristian Vistrup Madsen, June 1, 2021

Kunsttips der Woche: Ganz plastisch, ganz da
taz Online, article by Sophie Jung, March 25, 2021

Maler David Ostrowski “Jede Farbe ist aufgeladen mit Emotionen”
Monopol, interview by Anna-Lena Werner, March 4, 2021

David Ostrowski “Political Painting” at SUNDOGS, Paris
Mousse Magazine, October 28, 2019

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

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 in Cologne) lives and works in Cologne. From 2004–2009 he studied at the Düsseldorf Art Academy under Albert Oehlen. Ostrowski is a professor for painting at the Academy of Arts in Karlsruhe. His work will be on view at his solo exhibition Parliament at Sprüth Magers New York in June 2024. Selected solo exhibitions include Fig., Tokyo and Ramiken, New York (both 2023), Sprüth Magers, Berlin (2021), Lady Helen, London (2020 with Angharad Williams) Avant-Garde Institute, Warsaw (2020 with Tobias Spichtig), Jir Sandel, Copenhagen and Leeahn Gallery, Seoul (both 2020), Sundogs, Paris and Piece Unique, Cologne (both 2019), Sprüth Magers, London and Wschód, Warsaw (both 2018); Halle 9 Kirowwerk, Leipzig and Blueproject Foundation, Barcelona (both 2017), Leopold Hoesch Museum, Düren (2016 with Michail Pirgelis), 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 Standard Oslo and Weiss Falk at XYZcollective, Tokyo (both 2023), Catherine Zeta, Cologne (2022), Akademie der Künste, Berlin and Fuhrwerkswaage, Cologne (both 2021), Triest, New York, Melange, Cologne and Pio Pico, Los Angeles (all 2020), Galerie Bernhard, Zurich, Karst, Plymouth, DuMont Kunsthalle, Cologne, and Braunsfelder, Cologne (all 2019), Aishti Foundation, Beirut (2018), plət, Amsterdam and Museum of Modern Art, Gunma (both 2017), Fondazione Carriero, Milan (2016), 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 Master Student
Teaching
Since 2022 Professorship for painting at the State Academy of Fine Arts Karlsruhe
Awards, Grants and Fellowships
2012 Studio Grant Kölnischer Kunstverein and Imhoff Foundation, 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 (Rosa de la Cruz Bonfiglio)
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
Sammlung Philara, Düsseldorf
Syz Collection, Switzerland
Taguchi Art Collection, Tokyo
Tel Aviv Museum, Tel Aviv
Zabludowicz Collection, London