Katharina Grosse Studio, Berlin, 2018 © Katharina Grosse and VG Bild-Kunst Bonn, 2018. Photo: Jens Ziehe
Tuesday, May 15, 6–8pm
There is no boundary between reality and imagination. To imagine is to realize. My pictures are prototypes of this recognition; they try out—and dramatically compress—the characteristics of reality. I build prototypes of the imagination so that they can be reenacted and applied to other fields of endeavor.
Widely known for her spectacular in situ paintings, in which explosive color is rendered directly onto architecture, interiors, and landscapes, Grosse embraces the events and incidents that arise as she works, opening up surfaces and spaces to the countless perceptual possibilities of the medium. Approaching painting as an experience in immersive subjectivity, she uses a spray gun, distancing the artistic act from the hand, and stylizing gesture as a propulsive mark.
In Prototypes of Imagination, Grosse reveals the ways in which painting catalyzes the unfolding of multiple dimensions on a single surface. Following Wunderbild, the imposing processional installation at the National Gallery in Prague, at the center of the exhibition is a single painting of oceanic scale on loose cloth. Working on huge expanses of flat cloth enables Grosse to execute very large-scale works in the studio in response to specific architectural conditions beyond it, in this case the Britannia Street gallery. This new approach creates a bridge between the studio canvases and the in situ paintings that she has been making over the last decade. In this abstract phantasmagoria, with its aqueous layers of vibrant, pulsating color, Grosse’s painterly gestures, and the inverted chromatic zones arising from her use of stencils of vaguely biomorphic form, assert entirely new spatial and temporal transformations.
Grosse continues this approach in works on stretched canvas, many of which contain rectangular fields that slide and tessellate like the windows and tabs of a browser, or dissolve into each other, creating ghostly organic silhouettes. Spatial tensions rise through shifts in chromatic temperature, and with stencils, folds, and other tools she allows for new patterns to emerge. Using stencils to either filter or completely block out areas of negative space, she creates opaque fields to be interrupted by solid geometries and ambiguous transparencies. The result sometimes recalls photograms wherein individual objects are placed on photosensitive paper to produce images using light alone. Here, paint replaces light, as Grosse saturates the exposed fabric with blazing, spectral mists. Each composition bears intimate traces of its creation, such as the smudges of paint where a stencil has been removed, or showers of drips suddenly severed in their resistance to gravitational pull. Surpassing the limits of pictorial logic, Grosse’s paintings are paradigms of vision; just as forms seem to materialize, their edges effervesce, pulling the viewer into their kaleidoscopic force field.
Katharina Grosse was born in 1961 in Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany, and currently lives and works in Berlin. Collections include Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Staatliche Museen zu Berlin; Kunstmuseum Bonn, Germany; Lenbachhaus, Munich; Kunsthaus Zürich; Museum of Fine Arts Bern, Switzerland; ARKEN Museum for Moderne Kunst, Copenhagen; Istanbul Modern; Museum of Modern Art, New York; as well as commissions for public and private buildings in the US and Europe. Recent institutional exhibitions and in situ paintings include Two younger women come in and pull out a table, De Pont Museum, Tilburg, Netherlands (2013); WUNDERBLOCK, Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas, TX (2013); Inside the Speaker, Museum Kunstpalast, Düsseldorf (2014); psychylustro, Philadelphia Mural Arts Program (2014); yes no why later, Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, Moscow (2015); Seven Hours, Eight Rooms, Three Trees, Museum Wiesbaden, Germany (2015); Untitled Trumpet, 56th Biennale di Venezia (2015); Rockaway!, MoMA PS1 Rockaway!, Fort Tilden, New York (2016); Asphalt Air and Hair, ARoS Triennial, Arhus, Denmark (2017); This Drove My Mother Up the Wall, South London Gallery (2017); and The Horse Trotted Another Couple of Metres, Then It Stopped, Carriageworks, Sydney (2018).
Wunderbild opened at the Trade Fair Palace of the National Gallery in Prague on February 16 and remains on view until January 6, 2019.
An extensive monograph on Grosse’s recent work, published by Gagosian and with contributions by Dan Cameron, Okwui Enwezor, Isabelle Graw, and Louise Neri, will be available at the time of the London exhibition.
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