Józef Stanislaw Ostoja-Kotkowski
As a result of the widespread devastation of World War Two, Polish-born artist Józef Stanislaw Ostoja-Kotkowski migrated to Australia in 1949. Upon his arrival in Melbourne he studied briefly at the National Gallery Art School before commencing work at the Leigh Creek coalmines in the early 1950s. It was here that the iridescent desert light captivated his attention, shifting the focus of his visual arts practice to the illustration of kaleidoscopic variations in Australian light. He settled in the Adelaide Hills in 1955 where he occupied a small cottage on the estate of Edward Stirling Booth for 40 years, until his death in 1994.
Ostoja-Kotkowski is regarded by critics as Australia’s ‘first true multimedia artist’, his practice evolving from drawing and painting to encompass experimental photography, laser kinetics as well as moving image and sound performances. His early works display an expressionistic and surreal style, which over time evolved towards pure abstraction through his exploration and use of light as a medium.
This small selection of works from Flinders University Museum of Art’s collection provides a snapshot of the Ostoja-Kotkowski archive, which was kindly donated to the University by the estate of Edward Stirling Booth in 2005. Comprising over 400 artworks, the five images presented here offer a glimpse of the artist’s development, dedication, and significant contribution to Australian art.