Carl Ostendarp: BLANKS
By PAUL LASTER, AUG. 2014
Within a sane, play it by the rules art world, eccentricity is sometimes hard to find, but it’s the first thought that comes to mind when looking at Carl Ostendarp’s show of new paintings. Monochrome paintings that are interrupted by the artist’s initials, the canvases are titled after Hammond organ jazz musicians from the 1960s and ‘70s—a period that Ostendarp continually investigates, both conceptually and aesthetically, in his practice.
The five paintings in the main gallery share a similar palette, in which the ground is pink/salmon color and the letters are a reddish brown. Titled John Patton, Jimmy McGriff, Trudy Pitts, Jack McDuff and Jimmy Smith, they have a comparable look but are actually each a different size, which is determined by a mathematical formula in relationship to the height and width of the gallery walls, and employ various layouts for the C and O. In the back gallery, however, the first painting, Shirley Scott, reverses the palette of five canvases up front, while the remaining three paintings (Charles Earland, Groove Holmes and Larry Young) form a unit where the colors interact.
Throwing a touch of ego into the sublime, Ostendarp uses typography sourced from hand-drawn lettering by Mad Magazine’s Don Martin, and has created an artist’s book that visualizes his process in an equally madcap vein.
Paul Laster is a writer, editor, curator, artist and lecturer. He’s a contributing editor at ArtAsiaPacific and Whitehot Magazine of Contemporary Art and writer for Time Out New York, Harper’s Bazaar Arabia, Galerie Magazine, Sculpture, Art & Object, Cultured, Architectural Digest, Garage, Surface, Ocula, Observer, ArtPulse, Conceptual Fine Arts and Glasstire. He was the founding editor of Artkrush, started The Daily Beast’s art section, and was art editor of Russell Simmons’ OneWorld Magazine, as well as a curator at P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, now MoMA PS1.
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