Anna Ostoya

Bortolami Gallery


Born in Krakow in 1978, Anna Ostoya has lived in New York since 2008. Her work spans multiple aesthetic traditions and includes painting, collage, photomontage; at times text and objects. She is mostly known for her geometrically fractured paintings, textured collages and photomontages of look-alike found images.

Ostoya attended the Whitney Independent Study Program in New York, the Städelschule in Frankfurt/M and the Parsons School of Art and Design in Paris. Her book collaborations include Polish Rider (MACK 2018) with Ben Lerner and Politics and Passions (MACK, 2021) with Chantal Mouffe. Her work has been shown, among others, at Kunsthaus Baselland (2019), Zacheta National Gallery, Warsaw (2017, solo), Tate St. Ives (2015), Lyon Biennial (2015), La Kunsthalle Mulhouse (2013, solo), Museum of Modern Art in New York(2013), CCS Kronika, Bytom (2010, solo), The Power Plant Toronto (2011), Lisson Gallery in London (2009) and Manifesta 7 Rovereto (2008). It is part of collections including the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Defares Collection, Dutch National Bank Collection, RISD Museum Collection, Gaby and Wilhelm Schürmann Foundation, De la Cruz Collection, Zacheta National Gallery and European Central Bank.

Ara H. Merjian (Frieze, Features, 2014):

'Comprising painting, photography, collage and installation, Ostoya’s oeuvre revisits episodes from the classic Avant-gardes, mining them for meditations on the formal impasses of contemporary artistic practice, as well as for potential conceptual paths out of that same aporia. Born in Krakow in 1978, but based in New York, Ostoya is, however, no facile pasticheur. Her works explore the melancholy attendant upon any resuscitation of ‘heroic’ Avant-garde experiments, particularly in the wake of an inexorably spectacularized culture. Informed by her Mittel-European origins (Krakow is an hour from Auschwitz), the fall of Communism that marked her childhood and her ongoing residence in late-capitalist America, Ostoya homes in upon the interstices between these realms, the spaces – real and imaginary – where histories both personal and public converge. Constructivism, Dada, Expressionism and Abstract Expressionism provide Ostoya with the raw material from which to fashion a practice as formally playful as it is theoretically astute. Likewise, the presence and absence of women in the historical Avant-garde’s received narratives – their often-unacknowledged roles as makers and muses, authors and models – inflects the contemporary feminist dimensions of Ostoya’s experiments to striking ends.' 

Paulina Pobocha (Zachęta catalogue, 2017):

'Ostoya tells us clearly that art is a site of discourse, perpetually in flux and responsive to its time. The early photomontages are foundational to her enterprise and bear a body of work that includes abstract and figurative collage, writings, and large-scale, virtuosic oil paintings. At times, her works seem stylistically incongruous, difficult, if not impossible to succinctly discuss (perhaps here she has located a loophole and the more you look at her work, the more you will see, the more words will follow). It is precisely through her embrace of a multivalent visual and formal repertoire that the fallacy of truthful representation, and through it, an accurate and fulsome account of history, appears as an unassailable truth.'  

Ben Lerner (unpublished, 2018):

'Anna Ostoya’s originality in part consists of how she avoids the fetishization of novelty; the work she makes is truly new because it registers shifts in the structure of our experience while maintaining a live connection with those histories that determine the grammar of the present. Instead of an emphasis on “newness” that depends on an amnesiac (and essentially capitalist) relation to the past, Ostoya—both on the level of the concept and on the level of facture—critically engages 20th century avant-garde movements and their legacy in our century. If she avoids the trap of false novelty, she also refuses the easy out of cynicism, of ironic detachment: she does not make paintings about how painting isn’t possible anymore; she does not sell sanitized sendups of ambitious artists from the past. Instead, Ostoya’s compositions test and challenge, they make intensely felt, the ongoing dialectics of figuration and abstraction, reproducibility and originality, the aesthetic and the political, the European East and West. Among other unstable oppositions. Now that the nightmares of the early twentieth century seem to have returned (as tragedy and farce: murderous, racist, misogynist, revisionist, nostalgist buffoons with nuclear arsenals at their fingertips), Ostoya’s work—in part because it has never assented to any faddish notion of the contemporary—is painfully cutting edge.'