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Martin Lukas Ostachowski in his art studio

The Art of Martin Lukas Ostachowski, the “Clouds Artist”

Martin Lukas Ostachowski is an artist based in Canada who explores geometric abstraction and minimalism using physical and digital languages through the use of technologies like blockchain.

Martin was born in Upper Silesia, a Polish region, to German ancestors in 1984. The area had belonged to Germany before the second world war, and afterward, German culture was suppressed. At the age of four, the adventure that would shape his whole life and artistic process began. Told he was going on a vacation, Martin boarded his first passenger flight with his parents to escape communist Poland and join their family in Germany. Fast-forward to 2013, he again entered a plane to immigrate to Canada.

Clouds and flying: new beginnings, hope, and adventure  

Martin has been moving around his whole life. Challenged twice with a completely new life in a different country, he has never really experienced deep-rootedness in any place, although he has always been fascinated by those who did. Hence his passion for travelling and exploring different cultures: a constant in his life, embracing the idea of us all as international strangers, outside of our comfort zones, without borders, looking forward to our destinations and new memories.

In the last six years, Martin made over 250 flights with his day job, during which he started studying clouds, taking photos and recording videos.

Our keys to the paradisiac, puffy world of Martin Lukas Ostachowski: the “clouds artist” 

Martin's work is extremely personal, intimate, and explores the concepts of his identity. He enjoys the versatility of clouds, their peculiarity of being intangible, in continuous change and transience, while remaining familiar and relatable to everybody. They assume various meanings across different cultures; for instance, referencing divinities in positive and negative contexts.* Clouds can refract the light and fill the sky with the brightest colours; they can indicate weather change. This ambiguity is a perfect stage for the artist's work; they represent the fact that we will never see the same cloud(s) twice.

The artist's personal path of change over the years is reflected in his series of woven and cut-out pieces (Making Of Tropopause Reflections One). In this series, the three layers of the paintings represent the past, a hardly visible opaque background, for his fading memories of Poland; the present, the main visible layer, for his formative years in Germany; the future, woven stripes, for his discoveries in Canada. This concept serves the artist as a canvas, a base for new paintings exploring blockchain technology, each one always manifesting like a living being: coming with a past, a present, and a future.

Martin started exclusively with physical art, publicly identifying as an artist in 2015. He was always interested in digital art, although against forcing it into physical mediums to limit its distribution. Blockchain came as the game-changer, and Martin started using technology in the actual process of making art. For instance, he used the graphic design software that he had been learning since the age of 18 when he opened his design studio to validate concepts before working for hours on a piece. Other processes include laser cutting and plotting.

He began his blockchain experience as an observer at the end of 2017 before starting to tokenize his art in June 2018. He truly believes in the technology’s transformative potential beyond cryptocurrency. Since the way technology is communicated is discouraging for most people, but familiarizing them with it is key to inclusion, it became a passion for Martin to educate people about blockchain. The blockchain itself became the subject of a whole body of work with clouds as its "medium." Clouds are a great symbol for the blockchain ecosystem, considered its fragility. Blockchain is an accumulation of hope, just as a cloud is of water, for a better future, wealth, and socio-economic systems. The moment people lose their hope, they will disconnect their computers, and the blockchain will dissolve, just like a cloud.

In conclusion, clouds embody the artist's two big passions: art and blockchain, his personal life and technology. He has also used clouds as his art "material," often trying to express things using them. Many of Ostachowski's art pieces take a long time to be completed. Sometimes, for a video-based work, it can take two years to gather videos, and for some others, hours and hours of flights to collect photos.

Martin’s clouds are of cotton and peacefulness; they are of data and mathematical patterns. They are art and technology. Existing in a sweet juxtaposition, specular and complementary. Clouds are life. The artist's life.

Eleonora Brizi, Curator

* For instance, in Christianity singular clouds were often associated with divinity and positivity; while in The Last Judgement, a group of clouds, with the end. In Greek mythology, Nephele was a cloud nymph. In mythology, the bright clouds can be linked to divinity, while the dark ones to despair and doom.

Snap shots from passenger flights - Martin Lukas Ostachowski
Snap shots from passenger flights - Martin Lukas Ostachowski

Artist Statement

Geometric abstraction, minimalism and the use of technology are constants in my visual narrative. My paper paintings combine traditional with modern arts and crafts processes such as weaving, hand-cutting and laser-cutting, and embrace technology to varying degrees. I experiment with digital and generative art such as algorithm-based visualizations through different technologies, in which the blockchain plays a significant role.

My main art subject, as well as “medium,” are clouds. Their continuous transformation in the sky has been fascinating to me as a traveller for a long time. Since I was four, I have always been captivated by clouds, be it as a frequent flyer for work or when travelling for personal reasons. I started observing, photographing and recording cloud formations, specifically through the window of an airplane. Their aesthetics, combined with their deep symbolism throughout cultures and time, is a constant source of inspiration I explore through a wide range of physical and digital mediums.

My current body of work explores the architecture of blockchain technology, which first occurred to me as a game-changer for limiting digital art distribution. Through the subject of clouds, I explore this topic as a contemporary symbol of data storage and connectivity, representing transformation and hope for fair global distribution of opportunity and wealth. Through data visualizations, animations and digital and physical pieces, I aim to make this complex technology accessible to spark discussions on the blockchain’s profound transformative potential for society.

In my art, clouds and technology are inseparable. They exist together in a sustainable ecosystem where sometimes playing as the subject, sometimes as the “medium.” Interchangeable, they live in a specular complementary balance, where these new “digital clouds” represent my biggest passions, in addition to my life and my identity.