Stefan Onowski

PORTFOLIO

 

STEFAN OSNOWSKI was born in East Germany and lives and works in Lisbon (Portugal). 

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.

For further informations, please check my Portfolio above.

 

EXHIBITIONS

2024 PROGRESS IN PARADISE (group exhibition) Berlin, Germany

2024 BAODT.Art (group exhibition) Paris, France

2024 ART & ANTIQUE MARKET (Resident Art Gallery) Budapest, Hungary

2024 COLLECTOR´S CHOICE (group exhibition) Budapest, Hungary

2024 BAODT.Art (group exhibition) Munich, Germany

2023 PEQUENOS FORMATOS (group exhibition) Lisbon, Portugal

2023 BAODT.Art (group exhibition) Salzburg, Austria

2023 COLLECTOR´S CHOICE (group exhibition) Budapest, Hungary

2022 BAODT.Art Vol. 4 (group exhibition) Frankfurt, Germany

2021 BAODT.Art Vol. 3 (group exhibition) Kitzbühel, Austria

2021 RESIDENT ART FAIR (group exhibition) Budapest, Hungary

2021 BAODT.Art Vol. 2  (group exhibition) - Munich, Germany

2021 BAODT.Art  (group exhibition) - Munich, Germany

2021 GARTEN BALATON  (group exhibition) - Lovas, Hungary

2020 RESIDENT ART FAIR (group exhibition) - Budapest, Hungary

2020 ART MARKET BUDAPEST (Art Kartell - group exhibition) - Budapest, Hungary

2020 RESIDENT ART GARTEN  (group exhibition) - Lovas, Hungary

2020 VADON (solo exhibition) - The Studios - Budapest

2019 RESIDENT ART FAIR (group exhibition) - Budapest, Hungary

2019 QOQUETEL MALAKOFF (group exhibition) - Recife, Brasil 

2019 RESIDENT ART GARTEN  (group exhibition) - Lovas, Hungary

2019 ART CAPITAL 2019 Paradise City - 5 readings of the city  (group exhibition) - Szentendre, Hungary

2019 METSZÉSPONT Intersection/Schnittpunkt  (solo exhibition) - Nick Gallery - Pécs, Hungary

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 PARALISAÇÃO (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 2022 FÁBRICA MODERNA - Lisbon

2017-2019 PARTIZÁN ART STUDIOS - Budapest

2016 CONTRAPROVA - Lisbon, Portugal

2014-2016 LAC - Lagos, Portugal

 

PUBLICATIONS

ART.SALON 09/2021 "The digital woodcut as a mirror of our cultural image practice" by Dr. Felix Brosius (engish / german)

ARTKARTELL BIGPICTURE 2020 (hungarian)

RESIDENT PUBLICATIONS 2019 Carving the light (english)

ÚJ MÜVÉSZET Print version (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)

 

 

FELIX BROSIUS

The digital woodcut as a mirror of our cultural image practice

It is not all that often that an artist succeeds in creating an entirely unique and unmistakable aesthetic through his technique alone. The “Digital Woodcuts” by Stefan Osnowski exhibit this kind of unseen suggestion.

Stefan Osnowski is an artist who constructs his pictures elaborately. To do this, he exclusively uses the centuries-old technique of woodblock printing. This in itself is rather unusual for a contemporary artist. What is absolutely unique, however, is that Osnowski uses one of the oldest reproduction processes, commonly known for its coarse - precisely woodcut-like - representations, to create an extremely filigree, digitally appealing, ultra-modern aesthetic.

Woodcut with digital grid

Digital images, as we see them almost constantly today on television, computer and mobile phone screens, are made up of countless individual pixels. On modern devices, the image pixels are now so numerous and small that we no longer perceive them as individual dots, but we are all familiar with the raster optics that show up on old screens and in awkwardly enlarged digital images. A very similar grid structure also characterises Osnowski’s prints, for just as in the construction of digital images, he also transfers the motif into a strict grid of light and dark. The extremely fine gradations and shadings in his pictures, which are typical of woodcuts, result solely from the density of the screen dots and only form in the eye of the beholder. In Osnowski’s work, the printing block itself knows no shades, it only distinguishes light and dark, positive - negative, zero and one, and thus becomes the digital code of the motif.

However, while the translation of the motif into a digital grid is carried out by the computer according to a fixed algorithm in fractions of a second, the manual reproduction in the woodcut is a lengthy process, characterised by random influences and incapable of being precisely controlled at any time. How does the wood split? How does the knife cut into the grain? Where do the inevitable little mistakes creep in? A physical process throughout, which Osnowski even maintains during the printing process, for he dispenses with the printing machine usually used for woodblock printing and also makes the prints manually, first pressing the paper onto the wooden stick by hand and then repeatedly sweeping the back of the paper with various glass lenses in countless circular movements until it has absorbed the ink - the most strenuous process in the entire process of creating the picture, which takes several hours for larger works and gives each print an individual character.

»I love the bulky, hard to control natural material and the very handmade and physical but sensitive creative process of printing.«

Freedom of nature and »non-places« of efficiency

Osnowski works both representationally and abstractly, up to the informal. Two themes recur among his motifs: landscapes with an almost romantic feel and cold, anonymous street views - places of longing and “non-places”, as Osnowski himself calls them. Growing up in the 1970s and 80s in a small town in the former GDR, Osnowski perceived the narrow alleys of the town as a mirror of provincial narrow-mindedness in a country surrounded by walls, even at a young age. So the rivers, lakes and forests of the surrounding countryside quickly became an escape point where he and his friends could build their own island dream kingdoms between water and reeds in a landscape characterised by old, flooded peat pits - and when even these islands became too small, they “borrowed” the fisherman’s boat without being asked and travelled up the rivers. Almost always taking pen and paper to record the impressions. »I often took a small sketchbook with me to draw and paint with watercolours. I dreamed of the sea, the mountains and the distance.«

»Nature taught me what freedom means.«

This connection to nature continues to this day and finds expression in Osnowski’s work. This is most clearly visible in representational depictions of nature, of towering mountain massifs or wave crests towering over the horizon in a roaring sea, which recommend themselves for a place in the Hamburger Kunsthalle right next to Caspar David Friedrich.

But the view of nature is not always unclouded. The series “Icarian Landscape” shows a terrain that is dissolving, structures that are disintegrating, a place that is disappearing and is barely recognisable as a landscape. At the same time, the figurative representation recedes, dissolves, passes over into the abstract, as if the decay had to be documented, but out of the artist’s defiance or grace, this happens in a tolerable way behind the veil of abstraction.

But places do not only disappear, they also emerge anew, not infrequently created by man and in these cases all too often as less homely places, arbitrarily interchangeable, not intended for lingering, but built under the dictates of efficiency according to functional aspects, serving industry or traffic, places of passage, unwelcome for inhabitation. For Osnowski, these are “non-places”, unsteady and soulless, which he captures in the woodcut, frozen in a snapshot like a single frame from an endless film.

Subversion of the digital image aesthetic

The digital grid is always placed over the motif like a filter and picks up on today’s prevailing image aesthetics. For while digital images have been evolving for decades to appear as real as possible, they have almost tragically shaped their very own aesthetic that dominates our viewing habits today. In a way, Osnowski is now turning the tables and reclaiming the interpretive space by subjecting traditional production and printing processes to the digital code. A contest with very unequal weapons. As you read this sentence, over 5,000 photos are being uploaded on Instagram alone, more than 1,000 every second, about 100 million per day. Osnowski works on one motif for many weeks and months.

Woodcut is certainly not one of the most popular techniques among contemporary artists today, and so Osnowski, who lives in Budapest, probably has a largely unique position. He also found his way to today’s virtuoso technique only in a roundabout way. In the early 1990s, he first began studying classical archaeology in Kiel, but quickly switched to German studies and theatre pedagogy in Greifswald before finally moving there to the Caspar David Friedrich Institute of Art from 1994 to 2000. He focused on painting and installation and had his first solo exhibitions in Greifswald and Berlin early on, the promising response to which could have encouraged him to continue on his chosen path. However, this was countered by starting a family and moving to Budapest, which temporarily uprooted him artistically. He sought new forms of expression and finally found woodcut. By now, his works can be seen in numerous solo and group exhibitions and can be found in various private collections worldwide. This is not surprising, for Osnowski has transformed the traditional woodcut into a modern visual language, as if this archaic technique were the ideal, almost indispensable medium for negotiating the issues at stake in our cultural visual practice.

 

 

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 resided 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. 

 

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 to Hungary for a residencies. 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)