Sunday, February 28, 2016

A Journey to the Conceptual

“I think making art means working with meanings,
especially today when art is predominantly referential.”
Anna Ostoya

A self-proclaimed “professional artist,” the Polish born New York based, painter, photographer, collagist Anna Ostoya believes that making a “ton of money” would be detrimental to her art.

As she told Zoo Magazine’s Marta Gnyp “Making tons of money. That’s not my goal. I think that such commercial success is dangerous and artists should avoid it if they want to keep the high quality of their work…  I’ve never understood people who get excited about making lots of money or about becoming famous. It seems to me that money and fame decrease one’s freedom, one’s time and one’s space. I want to have my time and my space; I want to explore what I want to explore, which is not my sellout potential.”

It is instead an exploration that not only investigates the ambiguity of meaning and constructions of historical and social narratives but also the medium chosen for her depictions.

As she told Osmos’ Jovana Stokic “I decide on a media in relation to a problem I want to tackle. It’s a conceptually grounded decision.”

Growing up in Krakow, Ostoya was more interested in writing and drama than art.

As she explained “As a teenager I was interested in literature and in theatre. But it seemed impossible to follow these interests professionally. To become a writer meant studying in Poland and I didn’t want that. To become involved with theatre meant working with a lot of people and I wasn’t good at that… I became committed to art and I started believing in it when taking drawing and painting classes with Barbara Leoniak, a sculptor, after graduating from high school.”

Ostoya moved to Paris in her early twenties to study at the Parsons School of Art and Design which was followed by a stint at Frankfurt’s Städelschule before a period at the Whitney Independent Study Program in New York.

It is a journey that has informed Ostoya’s art making where content and form are two sides of the same coin, not that dissimilar to the relationship that exists between an artist and their audience.

About which Ostoya has said “Whenever I moved the change seemed traumatic. Each move exposed me to a new set of ideas and references, new behaviors. Nothing seemed stable; it was painstaking to make sense of the world… That changing of context has shaped my approach to art and life… Art is made, experienced and explained through references, mostly art-historical ones. Using these references in a way that transforms the established meanings has an emancipatory potential… I believe that being serious about the content demands being serious about the form. I think about the form through the content and I want the viewer to think about the content through the form.”

Ostoya’s current exhibition Slaying in on show at New York’s Bortolami Gallery until the 23rd of April.

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