David Ostrowski

In the space of only a few years, the Cologne-based painter has developed a body of work that approaches, in an almost uncanny way, the idea of a “degree zero” à la Roland Barthes, while at the same time calling to mind the necessary failure of any attempt at such an approach. Ostrowski’s works are the product of a forced elimination of painterly knowledge and an expression of the ambition to understand the imagination of emptiness as an engagement with the history of painting. With his light-handed and complex orbiting of the non-motif, Ostrowski manages to open the space of the canvas for singular perceptual incursions, for an unexpected liberation of seeing. The selection of materials he uses in his works is in itself testimony to a clear attempt at minimalisation. Ostrowski utilises little more than canvas, primer coat, spray paint and strips of wood, as well as found bits of paper, cardboard or fabric. In an artistic process that thrives on both the reflexive refusal of artistic conventions and the methodical use of coincidences and errors, inspirations and slips, the artist creates largely monochrome works which at first glance seem to show very little. Here and there, the large-format canvases get sprayed with some black or ultramarine blue paint – either as a solitary line that serves as a compositional divide in the painting or as an outline, a kind of inner frame that shifts the outer border of the canvas into the picture area. Only sometimes, and seemingly inadvertently, do the traces of colour take on an emblematic character – as an aerosol colour circle, for example, as a suggestion of a geometric form, as a crooked smile. […] Ostrowski’s minimalist gestural works leave behind both figurative traditions and the conventions of abstraction. They derive their sense of dynamic dynamic from an irreducible pictorial uncertainty.

Daniel Schreiber


In the exhibition:

David Ostrowski
F (Don’t Honk), 2015
Acrylic, lacquer, cotton on canvas, wood
221 × 276 cm
© David Ostrowski, Courtesy of Sprüth Magers


Additional information about the artist