david ostrowski is the golden boy of abstract painting
In 2011 David Ostrowski’s studio in Cologne was entirely destroyed by fire, only one painting was saved. The destruction and David’s fascination with setting off into the unknown led to the artist to start from scratch, creating a new body of works...
How was your experience in Turin?
Turin seems like a pretty cool city to live in. I like its contrasts, the fascistic tendencies of the local architecture and the delicious ice cream.
Is it your first time in Italy?
Of course not. I love Italy and have been here many times before.
You are one of the most accomplished abstract painters of your generation. Is painting still relevant in the digital age?
The medium of painting is constantly dying and then reinventing itself. This regularly changing state is, of course, a human invention. I believe in the substance of painting and the preoccupation with the medium itself. I need to be surrounded by real smells - the digital doesn't smell.
Where does your passion for this medium come from? How did you start?
My mother is a singer and actress, my father is a sculptor and my grandmother was an author. This background was, of course, the best precondition for becoming an artist, which is tragically just what happened. I have always painted but the first time that I was satisfied with my own art must have been shortly after I graduated from the Academy of Art in Düsseldorf, since I never painted as poorly as when I was a student.
How would you describe abstract art to a child?
'Look at my paintings and learn to understand nothing.'
Is it true that you prefer to paint with colours you do not like? Why is that?
Yes, that's true - my hatred of colours helps me to keep things in check and can also be seen as a kind of dilettante-ish self-therapy. I felt that the associations of the colour blue, for example - sky, beach and positivity - were somehow disconcerting. But after having worked with the colour for some time, I ended up wearing blue clothes. I got on my own nerves for so long that I finally learned to love it.
F Series makes one think of the lowest grade in school evaluation ('F' for 'failure'). Did your academic training define the person you are?
Education is certainly not harmful. The more you know, the more you know what you don't want - but after all what do you actually really know anyway? My academic training led to the fact that I never knew less of what I was educate to, but then again there's always time to learn more.
Is family important to you?
Yes, very important.
Is the art community an alternative kind of family?
No, not in my personal expericence.
What do you think are the reasons behind your success?
It must have something to do with my good looks!
Your favourite singer?
Heaven or hell?
I would say Cologne.
Peaple say you can tell a lot about a man from the shoes he is wearing. What kind of shoes are you wearing now?
Nike, of course. Just do it. Like the title of my exhibition!
You often hide in portraits: do you like sunglasses??
No, not really. I wear sunglasses only because they make my nose seem smaller.
You are very keen on your privacy. What do you think of 'selfies' and of being exposed to so much of other people's lives?
I think 'selfies' and the exhibitionist tendencies in our culture are great!
If not yourself, who would you like to be?
Brad Pitt, because then I would at least look like who I really am.
Text Fabrizio Meris
Images courtesy David Ostrowski, Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Peres Projects Gallery