Katharina Grosse’s paintings need neither place nor frame nor canvas. Detached from the painting support, her pictures flow over forms, grow out of granular piles, are sucked up by surfaces and reappear in unexpected areas. Grosse’s paintings require spaces to exist in. Colour is used to mark specific spots, pointing to edges and textures, indicating possibilities and boundaries, and making the height, width and depth of the room visible. In its many layers, the colour in Grosse’s works takes on a physical quality and life of its own, creating an image in the interplay with the space. In a constant process, and in conjunction with what was found at and brought onto the site, the artist applies layer upon layer of colour, while also allowing for gaps, openings and breaks. In one series of works, the artist applied paint to rough Japanese paper, with the acrylic creating a seemingly organic surface that stretches across the fibrous and crumpled material like a skin. The yellow, red and blue tones mixed with a high percentage of white in the untitled paper piece recall the bright incarnadine pigment used in Renaissance painting, which Cennino Cennini, in his handbook Il Libro dell’Arte (around 1390), associated with the mystery of incarnation. In the painting of Caravaggio and Raphael, incarnadine also became a reflection of painting as an art form in the dynamic relationship between three-dimensional physical representation and flat surface. Incarnadine is not a colour but rather a technique of layering and modelling colour with the aim of developing physicality and vitality through painting and – at least in a figurative sense – of stepping out of the painted surface and into the room.
In the exhibition:
Katharina Grosse Ohne Titel, 2003 (3 works) Acrylic on Japanese paper Each 98 x 65 cm Courtesy of the artist and König Galerie, Berlin
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