Katharina Grosse always paints abstract pictures yet shapes a perspective of depth in them. Her painting is so big that it fills one’s entire field of vision. It almost feels as if one is surrounded by the picture; as if one stands inside it.
The picture sucks the viewer into a universe of whirling spirals in intense colours. At the same time the viewer is confronted with the fact that this is just a two-dimensional surface which is not possible to enter.
In the artists footsteps
When Grosse spray-paints her pictures, she places them on the floor. She moves around them almost dancing while applying the oversize ‘spray-strokes’ to the canvas.
The American painter Jackson Pollock (1912-1956) used a similar technique, when he did his paintings consisting of oil paint blobs. The technique is called action painting and makes it possible for the viewer to follow the artist’s movements in the painting.
Organic or synthetic?
In the artwork’s composition the organic and the synthetic wrestle for power. The soil-filled paint creates an almost moss-like, organic layer above the spray-painted spirals. But a certain ambiguity characterises the work. Is the organic green layer closing off the synthetic and dynamic space established by the spirals? Or is the organic layer pushed away by the spirals?
Katharina Grosses art in general
Two main threads run through Grosse’s art practice. One is her large paintings, the other her room installations. The room installations mix painterly and architectural elements. Grosse paints the exhibition space itself – the walls, the ceiling, the floor and the furniture – with spray-paint at enormous scales. Thus she transforms the exhibition spaces into three-dimensional paintings.
Grosse also includes big balloons, containers and piles of earth in her room installations. She creates beautiful and colourful landscapes which recall industrial accidents and ecological catastrophes.
Grosse produces her paintings in her workshop but the installations take as their point of departure the specific room she is working with. Before Grosse executes the work, she explores the light and spatial conditions of the individual rooms, incorporating them in the final work of art.
When Grosse transforms the exhibition spaces in this manner, she both conceals and accentuates certain aspects of the them. Doors, windows and furniture appear almost dreamlike. In her room installations she creates a borderland between art and reality which the viewer is given the opportunity to enter - so that we can sense the work of art with the entire body.
In this way Grosse jerks painting from its frame, spreading it throughout the whole room. It is a liberation of painting – a method to release art from its frame and bring it into reality. When Grosse lets art’s imaginary landscapes jump from the painting and into the rooms of reality, she also inspires us to look at our everyday surroundings with an artistic gaze.