This article was originally published in the New American Paintings blog in June of this year. This exhibition closed on July 8.
David Ostrowski’s intuitive marks — mistakes, he calls them — aggregate on the canvas like layers of paint. “It’s a constant failure,” he says in reference to his painting process, which is deliberately fast and intent on producing gestural imperfections. Indeed, there’s very little hand wringing here, as the artist’s trust in his mark making becomes palpable in the lines that he makes. At Nudashank Ostrowski, who is based in Cologne, Germany, is currently exhibiting three gritty paintings alongside the sculptures of Brooklyn-based Jack Henry. Both artists (on view at Nudashank through July 8th) share an affinity for that lyrical space that lies between painting and sculpture, as well as a penchant for provisional works that swap pristine ideals for a virtuous sense of human fallibility.
Ostrowski’s three paintings at Nudashank are nothing if not resolute. They’re roughly primed; thickly slathered with white paint and irregularly pasted over with paper that’s subtly crinkled and glazed, refracting the light just so. There’s texture all across his surfaces, and a materiality that begins to take on the qualities of something like well-worn pavement. It’s a deliberate grittiness that’s intimately familiar.
His three paintings are ever-so-slight variations on the same theme — spray painted lines in yellow, red, blue, green, and black that track the edges of a rugged white canvas. The variants here, then, are Ostrowski’s crooked lines, and his meticulous stammering is what ultimately becomes the subject of his work.
Jack Henry’s conceptual counterpoint to Ostrowski’s dexterous imperfections are the discarded objects that he encases in resin cores like geological markers. Look closely at Henry’s sculptures and you’ll find a hubcap, discarded plywood, a couple of plastic shopping bags — the sorts of things that might wash up along the banks of your local urban stream. The status of these found objects as castaways seems to implicate them as “mistakes” that are not unlike Ostrowski’s marks. And in this regard, just like Ostrowski’s marks, they remind us that perhaps our virtues aren’t found in glossies but in our daily, grinding fallibility.
Jack Henry is a Brooklyn based artist working mainly in sculpture. He received his MFA in 2010 from University of Maryland, College Park. Recent exhibitions include Fool’s Gold (solo) at Greenpoint Gallery, Brooklyn, Work Sites (curated by Nudashank) at Stamp Gallery, UMD, College Park, and Shakedown at Dodge Gallery, NY.
David Ostrowski lives and works in Cologne, Germany. Ostrowski studied at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf with Albert Oehlen. Recent exhibitions include F, Artothek, Cologne, 2012 (solo), Dann lieber nein, Figge von Rosen Galerie, Cologne, 2012 (solo), Sprechen sie dick (with Harmony Korine), Jagla Ausstellungsraum, Cologne, 2012, Between Two Ferns (with Michail Pirgelis), Mike Potter Projects, Cologne, 2011, Die Lügnerin (with Philip Seibel), Format:C, Düsseldorf, 2011, New Gestural Painting, September, Berlin, 2012 (group), Blitz, Rod Barton Gallery, London, 2012 (group), Tlk Drty, Amstel41, Amsterdam (group), BolteLang Zürich, 2012 (group). Ostrowski received a studio grant from the Kölnischer Kunstverein and the Imhoff-Stiftung for 2012.