Image: Josef Stanislaw Ostoja-Kotkowski, Nymphex 1966, gelatin silver photograph from electronic image, 50.6 x 60.8 cm. Art Gallery of New South Wales, Gift of Dr George Berger 1978. Image courtesy the Art Gallery of New South Wales, reproduced with kind permission of the Estate of J S Ostoja-Kotkowski.


Solid Light: Josef Stanislaw Ostoja-Kotkowski

1 April – 14 July 2019

Born in Poland in 1922, Josef Stanislaw Ostoja-Kotkowski moved to Australia in 1949 and became pivotal in development of Australian experimental and new media art. Pioneering electronic art, he made innovations in computer and laser technology, including kinetics and sound, which he applied to visual art, music and theatre. He was the first artist in Australia to use television as an artistic medium, and arguably the first in the world to use lasers in a stage production. His radical approach to marrying art and technology drew much criticism from critics and peers, yet his work gathered much interest in international experimental art circles.

In addition to Ostoja’s interest in the symbiosis of art and science, his work also constitutes a unique response to the Australian landscape. Inspired by the dazzling desert colours of central Australia, light became for him the ultimate medium and he followed its potential in far-reaching directions. While decidedly forward-looking, he also incorporated cultural influences from his homeland, such as the craft of wycinanki, or Polish paper-cutting.

Marking 25 years since the artist’s death in 1994, Solid Light will be the first major survey of Ostoja-Kotkowski’s diverse and future-oriented practice. The exhibition will bring together craft, drawings, paintings, optical collages, electronic images, photographs, kinetic sculpture and archival material from McClelland’s collection and major public institutions across Australia. The exhibition is accompanied by a significant catalogue, the first major publication on Ostoja-Kotkowski’s work. This project is generously supported by The Gordon Darling Foundation.


Pia van Gelder: Psychic Synth II / Apparition Apparatus

1 April – 14 July 2019

Solid Light will be accompanied by an interactive installation by Sydney-based multimedia artist Pia van Gelder, whose multimedia practice uses electronics to develop interactive installations and performances. Her Psychic Synth II and Apparition Apparatus continue Ostoja-Kotkowski’s innovative experimentation with contemporary technology. Psychic Synth II uses electroencephalograph headsets with video and sound synthesisers to create a feedback loop between the human brain and technology, translating the participant’s brain waves into colourful abstract projections and sounds. This work offers an environment where humans and technology become complementary and continuous, influencing and responding to each other’s signals.

Apparition Apparatus is an autonomous audiovisual setup featuring an early digital video mixer. The audio and video outputs of this device are plugged into their corresponding inputs, to produce an internal signal loop that emits a constant stream of abstract electronic phenomena. Van Gelder bypasses the unit’s intended use to reveal its inherent creative potential, allowing it to ‘perform’ and communicate in its own language.

Download the catalogue essay here

Pia van Gelder, Psychic Synth II 2019, still detail. Courtesy the artist.