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An Extraordinary Artist - Poland's Josef Ostoja-Kotkowski





            From Poland to Australia


    Josef Stanislaus Ostoja-Kotkowski









    Josef Stanislaus Ostoja- Kotkowski - born in Golub Poland on December 28, 1922 -  went by the name of Stan or Ostoja and was a prolific artist of enormous diversity. His works included vitreous enamels, production painting, photography, film-making, theatre design, stained glass, kinetic and static sculpture, murals, op-collages, computer graphics and laster art. He was best known for his ground breaking work in chromasonics, laser kinetics and "sound and image production".




     Vitreous Enamel on Metal




      Enamel on Steel




                                                                                                   OIL Painting



    From 1940-1945 he studied art under Olgierd Vetesko in Poland; at the Dusseldorf Kunst Akademie, German 1946-1949; He migrated to Melbourne, Asutralia in 1950 and studied at the National Gallery School in Melbourne under A.Sumner and Sir William Dargie. He lived and worked in Adelaide hills in South Australia from 1955 to his death.


    Reflective Tape on Metal




          Enamel and Adhesive Tape


    Enamel on Metal - ABSTRACTS


    In 1954-55, Stan worked in the Leigh Creek coalfields. This inland experience inspired his artistic direction as the light and color made a deep impression on him:



    "In the centre of Australia I was struck by the irridescence of the color...Not only did the color seem to be vitrating with intensity but at the same time it gave the impression of being something solid... The surroundings were drowned in an exciting light that had a life of its own" (PRG 919, Personal papers of JS Ostoja-Kotkowski Kinetics and electronics in art. Power Insititute lecture March 1968, p1)

    Capturing this intensity became the focus of his artistic creativity. 


       Solaris - Adelaide Festival






    In 1967, Stan travelled around the world on a Churchill Fellowship. At Stamford University, USA, he discovered lasers. With the help of the Weapons Research Laboratory, Salisbury, SA, he developed an installation of a laser beam whose sweep synchronised with voices and/or electronic music to produce images on a screen This was turned into his first "Sound and Image" production at the Adelaide Festival of Arts in 1968. It was possibly the first time a laser had been used in a theatre. He found the use of a laser beam particularly exciting. 'The blue greem is so brilliant that an aquarmarine stone reflecting in the sublight appears dull in comparison'. (A.Rawins, JS Ostoja-Kotkowski: explorer in light, Art and Australia, Autumn 1982 Vol. 19 No 3)


    This was the start of his enthusiasm for kinetics and chromasonics. In 1971, at the Australian National University, he designed a chromasonic tower, and with composer Don Banks, designed an audio-kinetic production Synchronos '71 which was the first concert in which the players' music was instantaneously translated into kinetic visual images. The musicians played images onto a screen. Stan built laser chromasons for exhibition and put on laser kinetic productions at Ballarat 1984, for the SA Jubilee 1986, and in 1991 he was invited to Warsaw to stage Synkronos '91.


    Kotkowski was an artist of tremendous innovation and talent. He was, at times, criticised for his technological approach to art but as he stated:

    "I am not seeking to smear art with science..but I am trying to free the imagination from the impediments of means". (PRG 919, Personal papers of JS Ostoja-Kotkowski, Kinetics and electronics in art. Power Institute lecture March 1968, p15)



    The State Library Ostoja-Kotkowski collection is a comprehensie archives of a post war migrant artist who maintained his connections with Poland. Ostoja-Kotkowski was a prolific artist of enormous diversity and the archives document the breadth of his work and ife. He was an innovative artist who made a significant impact on the art scene in Australia and influenced developments overseas in relation to chromasonics and kinetic art.



    Awards received included" 1967 'Excellence' AFIAP Berne Switzderland for innovative photography; 1969 Churchill Fellowship; 1971 Creative Arts Fellowship ANU Canberra; 1971 Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts London; 1973 Australian American Education Association Fellowship; 1991 Polish Order of Cultural Merit; and 1992 Order of Australia.