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Carl Ostendarp

Galerie Ricke

In recent years narrative has been finding its way back into contemporary art via installation, video, photography, and even painting. The New York–based painter Carl Ostendarp, for example, encourages narrative readings of his canvases. In Dead on it, 1997, one of the works in his recent show, a wavy brown line divides the painting into tan and white sections. Above the line floats a solid brown balloon resembling those in comic strips. It contains no words or letters, though, so it could simply be an abstract form or a stylized body part—a stomach, perhaps, or a breast with a large nipple. In other works, forms resembling a leg or a hand are discernible.

When Ostendarp is asked to relate the stories behind these canvases, he responds that they might involve anything suggested by the imagery. One example he gives—that Dead on it could tell of a man who goes out to get cigarettes and never

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