David Ostrowski’s practice interrogates the very nature of painting, in the process re-defining preconceived approaches to composition, form and colour. Formally minimalistic, his canvases are deceptive: their reduced palettes and spare compositions brim with idiosyncrasies, instinctive gestures and unplanned happenings. Born in Cologne in 1981, where he continues to live and work, Ostrowski studied painting under Albert Oehlen at the Kunstakedemie Düsseldorf. Yet his paintings seek to abandon pictorial traditions in favour of a trial-and-error methodology that deliberately integrates formal imperfections and coincidences into a rich and intuitive visual language.
Concerned with a process of unlearning, Ostrowski’s ongoing series of ‘F’ paintings – the ‘F’ stands for Fehlermalerei or ‘failure painting’ – encapsulate this practice, claiming a sense of beauty from the incidental. He observes, ‘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’. Although at first glimpse his expansive paintings appear as vacant fields interrupted by intermittent gestures, a closer look betrays a breadth of media, from spray paint and lacquer, to studio debris: scraps of paper, cardboard and adhesive tape. Despite their scale, Ostrowski’s works are intimate, the artist’s hand palpable in their varied landscapes and spontaneous production.