Joseph Stanislaus Ostoja-Kotkowski - Quotes and Notes

Quotes and Notes

One of Australia's most dramatic performance artists Stelarc, said this of Ostoja:

Well, at a very young age I admired the work of J.S. Ostoja-Kotkowski, who was one of the few, perhaps the only, Australian artists working with technology and lasers at that time. He's a Polish artist who did most of his mature work in Australia. I was pleased to recently pick up something and read a reference to him. I think he is an Australian artist who deserves more credit. It seems we still have difficulty ascribing importance or relevance to Australian artists and we have to somehow authenticate Australian art with overseas references. I was highly influenced by his use of technology, of searching for an alternate aesthetic that wasn't based in the traditional media."

Quoting from an essay about him by Laurie Thomas we get the first understanding that Ostoja had a fascination with light.

What set him on this course? It turns out that it began by rubbing his eyeballs.

The iridescent, kaleidoscopic, luminous and unbelievable images which come to sparkling light behind the shadow of the eyelids when pressed after the light has dazzled its way to the retina, forced him to think of the source of light as being the origin of all colour and all imagery.

It became especially so when he spent some time in Central Australia and looked straight at the white light and into the eye of the sinking red sun.

That was not long after he came here in 1949...migrated, trained for two years under Alan Summer and William Dargie in the art schools of the National Gallery of Victoria and went bush before settling in Adelaide. Thomas quoted Ostoja as saying, when he visited his studio in 1968:

The terrific iridescence you can get behind the eyes in Central Australia forces you to think of the source of light-whether it's beam, lantern or sun-and to think of it as the most impressive, most flexible and richest tool imaginable for an artist, the life-giving source. You come across phenomena which seem to wipe everything else off..something like the aurora.

This is what I'd like to do, to create an aurora which involves not only a three-dimensional but a more-dimensional space in which time is involved.

Why couldn't a painting change its shape, form and colour? Nature does, the universe does. In order to capture a portion of life it doesn't have to be dead in movement. It can have its beginning, its middle and its end and then repeat itself in a second, or a month, or a year, as a tree does or the life span of a man does.

It seemed to me that you could achieve this by using light as a tool and that the closest thing to the source of light we know and can handle confidently is electronics."

Ostoja held this fascination with light throughout his career. In February 2008 a great tribute was paid to the work of Ostoja when the University of Melbourne announced:

Archive of laser, sound and image artist JS Ostoja-Kotkowski inscribed on UNESCO Memory of the World register for Australia

The archives of one of the world's earliest artists to work with laser, sound and image production - Joseph Stanislaus Ostoja-Kotkowski and which are partly kept in the University of Melbourne's Special Collections, have been inscribed on the UNESCO Memory of the World register for Australia.

The announcement about the archives, owned in collections of both the University of Melbourne and the State Library of South Australia, was made on 21 February 2008.

  • UNESCO Memory of the World Register State Library of South Australia
  • Abstract Australis - Biography
  • Mazovia Regional Government announced in 2012 the "Year of Stanislaw Ostoja-Kotkowski in Mazovia

Read more about this topic:  Joseph Stanislaus Ostoja-Kotkowski

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