Political Paintings

Sundogs, Paris

September 28 – November 3, 2019

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Press release

SUNDOGS: You’re exhibiting paintings of owls that have been mostly painted over. Although they bring together diverse styles, the animals function like pictograms. Why did you make them disappear behind a wall of paint?

DAVID: I like to demystify them. The symbolism of the bird of wisdom, the allegory of good and evil—I want to dismantle these things. I’m trying to connect their vacuous faces with simple painterly gestures. It resembles a street wall on which someone amateurishly tried to cover over graffiti. To have the figurative owls clash with a brutish painterly layer is exciting to me. Some owls manage to break out. Others vanish behind the painted surface.

SUNDOGS: Most of the owls are pretty awkward, and they’re not only looking at their viewers; they’re also haunting them. Could they be considered self-portraits?

DAVID: No, I’d make a self-portrait confident and handsome. The owls serve as empty containers or moldings, and I’m trying to caricature personalities from the arts, sports, and the business world.

SUNDOGS: Why is the exhibition titled Political Paintings?

DAVID: Back in 2009 I made the first owls, but they were never shown. I found it amusing to be eyed and surveilled while I was painting. Ten years later, it’s the right time to make them public. The goal of the works is to overthrow high authorities.


David Ostrowski (b. 1981) lives and works in Cologne. He studied at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf with Albert Oehlen from 2004 to 2009. He was awarded the Atelierstipendium by the Kölnischer Kunstverein and the Imhoff-Stiftung, Cologne, in 2012. Recent solo exhibitions include Political Paintings, Sundogs, Paris (2019); Political Correction, Piece Unique, Cologne (2019); The thin red line, Sprüth Magers, London (2018); Bei mir geht es in den Keller hoch, Blueproject Foundation, Barcelona (2017); To Lose (a two-person show with Michail Pirgelis), Leopold-Hoesch-Museum, Düren, Germany (2016); The F Word, ARKEN Museum for Moderne Kunst, Copenhagen (2015); I want to die forever, Kunstraum Innsbruck, Austria (2015); How to do things left, Rubell Family Collection, Miami (2014); and Just do it, Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Turin, Italy (2014). Ostrowski’s work has been included in group exhibitions at the M Woods Museum, Beijing (2015); Halle für Kunst & Medien, Graz, Austria (2014); and the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London (2014). His work also featured in DONT the Music and Art Performance at Halle 9 Kirowwerk, Leipzig, Germany (2017).

Courtesy of Sundogs, Paris
Ph. Romain Darnaud

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