Stefan Onowski

STEFAN OSNOWSKI was born in East Germany and lives and works in Budapest (Hungary), he gives lessons and workshops in woodcut and woodprinting. He is artist at PARTIZÁN ART STUDIOS in Budapest. 

Master degree in Visual Arts from the Institute of Fine Arts "Caspar-David-Friedrich" University of Greifswald, Germany, in 2000. Degree in pedagogy of Art and Theater, University of Greifswald, Germany. Prolonged experience of visual art education and teaching, with children, adolescents and adults in Germany, Hungary, Portugal.

 

EXHIBITIONS

2018 TRADITIONAL ARTS AND DIGITAL ARTS - The Speech of (Dis)order XX. Cerveira International Art Biennial (Portugal)

2018 ENTRE (solo exhibition) - Resident Art Gallery - Budapest, Hungary

2017 URBAN POSITIV (group exhibition) - Latarka Gallery - Budapest, Hungary

2017 PASSAGE (solo exhibition) - Resident Art Gallery - Budapest, Hungary

2016 BZZ (group exhibition) - PP-Center Budapest, Hungary

2016 HIDRO GRÀFICAS (group exhibition) - Fortaleza, Brasil

2016 HIDRO GRÀFICAS (group exhibition) - Recife, Brasil

2016 HIDRO GRÀFICAS (group exhibition) - Lisbon, Portugal

2016 FRACTIONS (solo exhibition) - Pera, Portugal

2016 LAC (group exhibition) - Lagos, Portugal

2016 PRALAC (group exhibition) - Faro, Portugal

2015 PARALICAÇÃO (solo exhibition) - Galeria LAR - Lagos, Portugal

2001 GESETZ DEN FALL (group work) - Bahnhof Westend Berlin, Germany

2000 ARCHIV (solo exhibition) - Galerie am Scheunenviertel, Berlin, Germany

2000 SPUREN EINER TRÄGHEIT (solo exhibition) - Greifswald, Germany

2000 ANWESEND (solo exhibition) - Greifswald, Germany

 

RESIDENCES

since 2016 Partizan Art Studios - Budapest

2016 CONTRAPROVA - Lisbon, Portugal

2015-16 LAC - Lagos, Portugal

 

PUBLICATIONS

ÚJ MÜVÉSZET ( 7 / 2018) "A hínárzöld tenger mely, a felhös ég magas" ("Deep is the algae-green sea, the cloudy sky is high")   by Norbert Vass

KORTÁRS ONLINE 2018 (hungarian)

ARTMIRROR 2018 (english)

BUDAPESTER ZEITUNG 2017 (german)

ÚJ MÜVÉSZET 2017 (hungarian)

ARTKARTELL Magazine 2017 (hungarian)

 online Catalog PASSAGE exhibition Budapest (hungarian / english / german)

 

NORBERT VASS

The algae green sea is deep, the cloudy sky is high

Stefan Osnowski: ENTRE – átmenet (in between)

Deep is the algae green sea, the cloudy sky is high.

The sand is softly sinking today again, misty wind blows in our face. If the radio existed in 1809 and it had a weather forecast, a man’s gloomy voice would have given this prognose for the area of the Baltic Sea. The figure in Caspar David Friedrich’s painting from that year The Monk by the Sea, however, certainly sees and feels different. He is surrounded by silence as he watches the waves approaching. His cassock blends in with the water, with himself almost entirely fading into the blurring surroundings - distorted into a tiny, upside-down dash. Instead of showing a romantic tableau, Friedrich stages more the contemplative manifestation of the monk’s inner scene. Recognizing the infinite space leads the artist to turn landscape genre into a philosophic manifestation. The moment is frozen, and time remains in us.

The sand again is softly sinking today, misty wind blows in our face. The algae green sea is deep, the cloudy sky is high. This is what emerges to us as we observe the pieces of the exhibition by Stefan Osnowski: ENTRE – átmenet. Although Osnowski uses a unique technique to make his prints, through their poetry they still resonate to numerous periodes, artists and styles of art history. His works may remind of classical Japanese engravings, as well as Friedrich’s aforementioned abstract romanticism, the Rhine photos of Gursky could be mentioned - but even one-color impressionism or some peculiar deconstruction of hungarian alföldi (lowland) landscape painting. Osnowski’s works consolidate with time. To hurry would not be worth it, the space is the first thing we have to perceive at Resident Art Gallery anyway.

The prints of the German artist living in Hungary might seem nonfigurative compositions from up close, but from more distance the grid-like structure of the images builds up to angry clouds, the strict, diagonal line structure draws a battle of sea bank and waves. Back to the space. Just like Osnowski on the woodplate, we ourselves also mark diagonals in the living room-size exhibition hall, as observing the works from different distances and angles, they show their various faces. The star-like patterns of the prints seem as if someone dancing left thousands of shoeprints in the ink, or as if some foolish field surveyors may scratched - with the accuracy of an engineer - St. Andrew's crosses all over the paper. The case here is different though.

Osnowski first takes a picture (previously of road crossings, forest images, or abandoned buildings, lately seascapes), so that the banal content of the moment photographed will then be individualized through a time consuming, technically and also philosophically well-thought-out method. In his art, the most modern digital material, the thousands of pixels are countervailed by the ancient method of wood carving, the split second of exposure of his camera by the hours and hours of manual work. He builds a raster net with great precision of a craftsman, while poetry sneaks into the obsolete genre of landscape images by his monochrome pointillism. He challenges the sharp, overly technological, hyperrealist and emotionless portrayal of reality with his silent, haggard language and by working with the aesthetics of lacks and subtraction.

We would presumedly have a similar visionary effect if we enlarged a picture from one of the touristic magazines of any Eastern bloc country in the 70’s, screen printed them - the image grids would fall apart the same way. But in that case, nothing else would happen but technology ruining the image. What would be left is the gesture of purpose, but personality would disappear. While both of these are important components of Osnowski’s prints. Instead of a printing press, he uses a palm-size lens, to rub the ink from the wood plate on to the paper like an artisan, consciously shattering the repetitive details of the vivid and boring postcard world.

Do we see imaginary or real landscapes? The tide of condensation and thinning, or as liquids are freezing? As if facing the rays of a dark sun, we have to squint: because we can sense figurality, but as we take one step aside, the structure glints immediately. What we see is abstract and concrete at the same time. Or somewhere in between the two. This is also the promise of the exhibition’s title. Land and sea, sky and the water surface, woodcarving and photograph, digital and analogue all come together on these pictures. There is another in between in a biographical sense even: Portugal. The artist used to live there and the Entre series and the photographs, which the prints Oeste and Cordoama were based on, also come from.

Osnowski is a consistent image-constructor, who adjusts his creation methods considerately. Therefore, it also might be noticed as an in between that four pieces of the 2015 Fluxo series are exhibited apart from the newest, diagonal grid works dominating the exhibition itself. On these, we can only find horizontal cuts, which might seem to be a land map from afar, while from up close they look like a structure of frames of blurred, dissolved lines. As if the apocryphal pages of the atlas of an old fantasy world was hanged on the wall, or the electrocardiograph diagram of an unknown continent’s heartbeat.

Deep is the algae green sea, the cloudy sky is high. The sand is softly sinking today again, and misty wind blows in our face. Visiting the exhibition of Stefan Osnowski, we might get to sense all that. We might also presume that the exhibited works are seeking the common realms of mathematics, music and philosophy. They blur the borders of rationality and emotions into geometrical harmony. 

(Translation: Eszter Végh)

 

about: PASSAGE Exhibition (János Schneller RESIDENT ART BUDAPEST GALLERY)

"For many years now, Stefan Osnowski has been concerned with a new approach to wood engravings and has been developing the opportunities inherent to the technique. When preparing the engravings enlarged to the size of an easel painting, he creates a range of tonal values purely through the variation of the width and depth of the horizontal lines, as well as through the alteration of the density of the grid whilst retaining a purely monochrome imagery. His printing technique also deviates from the norm, due to the use of a palm-size glass lens to manually rub the ink onto the paper rather than a printing press, thus preserving the apparent uniqueness of each individual item in a series. Physical contact and hand-crafting is just as much a part of the concept as gathering a theme or selecting a medium.

For the artist of German descent, movement and displacement is not merely an artistically important theme, as it also plays an important role in his own life as he’s been on the move for a significant period of time; he previously lived in Portugal, Hungary and Germany for years before returning and settling in Hungary a year ago. He chose a host of locations as the main theme of his latest series which, due to their very nature, have become “non-places” (Unort), some of which were originally built as such. These “non-places” include motorways, tunnels, airport terminals, mall corridors or underground garages. None of these were designed for residing within, and furthermore, due to their function have been destined for transit use. Hence, the title of the exhibition refers to passing and crossing, which is related to one of the most frequently used expressions of our time and age, speed. Not only does the increase in speed lead to a change in our sensations, but also alter our notions and memories of imagery. The landscapes and locations appear in a fractional and disintegrated manner in our retinas, etched into our memories as a blur. The landscape, as viewed from the window of a speeding train or a car passing through a tunnel, is no longer an image consisting of characteristic details, but rather a faded impression which loses its individual nature and seamlessly serves into some kind of unified landscape, the uniqueness of which our brain – due to the speed – is unable to perceive or accommodate. We quickly end up with a headache when staring out the window of a high-speed train. Osnowski evokes the imagery of the world of passage by a fragmented and abstracted view through a technique in which the time spent on its creation is inversed to the proportion of the time of the reception regarding the perceived experience. The reception of the unusually large-sized wood engravings requires space, distance and time in order to somehow piece together the abstracted view of passing images." (Budapest, 28 February 2017)

 

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