David Ostrowski “The Thin Red Line” at Sprüth Magers, 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. The cultural relativity of the colour red was an initial point of interest for the artist; it connotes affairs of the heart for some, has become almost universally synonymous with danger, and represents good luck in other cultures. Grappling with this complex personality and its cultural preconceptions was a central concern for Ostrowski in developing the current works, which have materialised as repositories of the presence and absence of the colour red. The artist applied found materials from his studio, elements such as cotton, wood and paper, to canvases which have been painted in acrylic and lacquer. F (Component), features part of the name of a German paint brand, Alpinaweiß, painted in red acrylic on a pale background, whilst F (Freischwinger) is a digital pigment print of antique chairs superimposed on a red backdrop. Paintings with large areas of paintwork signal Ostrowski’s idiosyncratic painting style – working quickly and spontaneously with fast-drying materials, adding texture and depth through collaged elements.
The accompanying catalogue The Thin Red Line explores further the complexity of the colour red, and should be viewed as part of the exhibition itself. Ostrowski commissioned a series of texts from writers and academics, with ‘red’ as his only specification. In Tenzing Barshee’s fictional text, ‘Very Idea’, the figures A, B and C pontificate on art, and in so doing, characterize red variously as ‘patriarchy’, ‘systemic violence’, ‘the red flag’, ‘lipstick’ and ‘blood vessels’. Meanwhile Torsten Schmidt takes A Thin Red Line as the title for a fictional narrative about a car crash, whilst other texts explore the sociopolitical, psychological and biological context of the colour red.
The catalogue The Thin Red Line will be published by Mousse Publishing, Milan, in collaboration with Karma Books, New York, with further written contributions from Elisa R. Linn, Gregor Quack and Lennart Wolff.
at Sprüth Magers, London
until 19 January 2019