Katharina Grosse

Two Younger Women Come In And Pull Out A Table

16 Feb - 9 June 2013
work in collection

In what way can painting be manifest in space? This is a question that Katharina Grosse (Freiburg, 1961) has continued to provide with new answers over the past twenty years, while also painting on canvas. Around 2000 she took an important step in ‘liberating’ painting by incorporating architectural spaces in the painted work. During that same period she began to employ the paint gun as a painterly instrument. Equipped with protective gear, a mask and earplugs, she has since been producing nearly all of her paintings with this device developed for heavy industry. Thanks to the paint gun, which is connected to a compressor by way of a tube, she is able to work more quickly and can paint areas that are difficult to reach.

When creating an installation, Grosse wants to have no preconceived image of the end result. To her, this is precisely the challenge: to have no preconceptions and to respond intuitively to what emerges while painting, until there arrives a moment at which the painted image provokes no further actions.

In the installations of Grosse we don’t face the painted image; it surrounds us. The succession of many vantage points has replaced an overall view of the image, just as a clearly structured composition has given way to the stratification of sprayed streaks of paint. Inherent in that stratification are two different experiences of time. There is the immediacy of the painted image, but there are also the traces of successive actions that have given rise to the image. The contrasting colors function as a referential system in our comprehension of the image. Due the use of the paint gun, only one color can be applied at a time; therefore each new color marks a subsequent moment in the image’s development.

Images have their own dynamics. In her paintings from recent years, Grosse has arrived at a new interpretation of that idea and is establishing new connections between her installations made at specific locations and her paintings produced in the studio. In the large installations, small gestures fan out into large forms. As though it were being decelerated, the evidence of that movement becomes attached to the surface of a floor or wall. Within the confines of a canvas, that space in which to move is much more limited. Here the opposite takes place: the many overlapping marks made by the paint become manifest as an intensification of time and action. In recent works that impression of speed and energy is further heightened by the use of templates. By masking off parts of the canvas while painting, Grosse channels the movements of color into sharply defined trajectories. The white canvas seems to serve the same purpose as the unpainted forms of white styrofoam in her recent installations. They act as blank spots, as unknown areas, on which painting has not (yet) descended.

When Katharina Grosse decided to become a painter in the early 1990s, she initially limited herself to a very elementary form of painting. Using a wide brush and even strokes, she covered the canvas with uniform fields of color. What had been an end point for a previous generation became, for her however, the start of a voyage of discovery in which she would put painting’s vitality to the test time and again. 

website of the artist