Born in Poland in 1922, Josef Stanislaw Ostoja-Kotkowski moved to Australia in 1949 and became pivotal in development of Australian experimental and new media art. Pioneering electronic art, he made innovations in computer and laser technology, including kinetics and sound, which he applied to visual art, music and theatre. He was the first artist in Australia to use television as an artistic medium, and arguably the first in the world to use lasers in a stage production. His radical approach to marrying art and technology drew much criticism from critics and peers, yet his work gathered much interest in international experimental art circles.
In addition to Ostoja’s interest in the symbiosis of art and science, his work also constitutes a unique response to the Australian landscape. Inspired by the dazzling desert colours of central Australia, light became for him the ultimate medium and he followed its potential in far-reaching directions. While decidedly forward-looking, he also incorporated cultural influences from his homeland, such as the craft of wycinanki, or Polish paper-cutting.
Marking 25 years since the artist’s death in 1994, Solid Light will be the first major survey of Ostoja-Kotkowski’s diverse and future-oriented practice. The exhibition will bring together craft, drawings, paintings, optical collages, electronic images, photographs, kinetic sculpture and archival material from McClelland’s collection and major public institutions across Australia.
This project is generously supported by The Gordon Darling Foundation.
Image: Stanislaus Ostoja-Kotkowski,
1965, plastic collage and synthetic polymer paint on plywood, 121.8 x 121.7 cm. National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne. Presented through The Art Foundation of Victoria from the Bequest of Violet Dulieu, Founder Benefactor, 1997 (1997.179). Reproduced with kind permission of the Estate of J S Ostoja-Kotkowski and the National Gallery of Victoria.