David Ostrowski was born in Cologne, in 1981, and graduated from Kunstakedemie Düsseldorf, where he studied painting under Albert Oehlen. Since he began exhibiting in 2006, he has put on numerous solo and group shows throughout Europe and the United States. More recently, he has intensified his focus on solo shows.
Abstract art is often riddled with minimal intensity and gestural mystery. David Ostrowski’s deceptively uncomplicated work exists as a form of visual poetry. A sprayed line here, and an element of paper mache there, simply surfaced over a thick white applique. This less-is-more aesthetic is derived from Ostrowski’s deliberate attempts to distance himself from the prevalent melds of technical skills that exist in painting today. His work marks a simultaneous abandonment from, and reconfiguration of, traditional historical tropes.
Ostrowski’s most recent body of work, the F series, investigates the conception of the error in painting where the artist attempts to use his right hand as he would his left to purposefully create process-based abstract canvases. Some critics have considered Ostrowski’s practice as being akin to literary free association. Others, such as Jonathan Griffin, have drawn comparisons between the artist’s use of black smoky spray paint lines to car exhaust fumes. Ultimately, the physical attributes of Ostrowski’s work extrinsically negate referential treatment. They are created in fluid succession mainly in the artist’s former car park studio in Cologne.
The artist describes his working method as follows: “I build and destroy the picture by adding and discarding canvas, colours, found fragments and dust without regard to any strategy or chronology. I strive to reduce my own decision-making power to the physicality of my actions”. His sparse canvases are exploratory: they seek to discover the limits of painting and the depths of nothingness.
Ostrowski is now mentioned in the same breath as definitive abstract artists of the millennial generation. Decidedly brief in interviews and unflinching in his dedicated obsession with celebrity culture, the artist’s devoted and mysterious persona is interlinked with his practice. Much of his time in the studio is spent in an absorptive state, taking in music and novels prior to painting in spurts.