30 OCTOBER – 18 DECEMBER 2020
ST. AGNES | NAVE
On display in the current exhibition are large and less large rectangular canvas formats alongside paintings on irregularly delimited supports constructed out of several partly overlapping plywood panels. Grosse painted the canvasses in her Berlin studio and the works on plywood in her studio in New Zealand. These different locations are reflected in differing manners of painting and, on the aesthetic plane, in differing family resemblances: the Berlin works are marked by broad, transparent swathes of colour blended into one another and by a certain prevailing chromaticity, whereas in the pictures from New Zealand the reserved multi-coloured quality of the sharply separated paint slashes are juxtaposed with a largely black portion. In each case, the paint has been sprayed onto the support in more or less uniform swinging movements. This readily legible dynamism of the repetitive painting process produces, however, effects in colour space that remain unreal since the temporal build-up process of the overlaid traces of colour cannot be reconstructed by the human gaze. Thus, these works combine elements of immediate and accustomed plausibility with elements of irrationality and bemusement, calling into question the connection between cause and effect.
All that can be seen is pervaded by the presence of colour that has been covered over and has become invisible: what remains visible is the uppermost layer of a sediment that has, in the course of a process over time, buried other layers of colour beneath it. A specific piece of evidence for this co-ordinated deposition of colour is a linear, erratically moved disturbance produced by twigs or lengths of twisted plastic material that were attached to the painting support before the start of the spraying process and were finally (in most cases) removed again. At the same time, nothing can be seen except that part of the painting that settled on the transportable surfaces, while the complete precipitation of paint clearly extends far beyond the limits of the flat picture supports. An unknown part of the painting – whose existence can, however, be deduced – has fallen outside the plywood panels or canvasses, on the floor or wall of the studios in New Zealand or Berlin. It is not the painting that is adjusted to fit the given support, but the support’s form and placing that determines the picture: had the spatial disposition of the painting’s support been different, a different picture would have been registered.
Hence the individual works in the exhibition can be understood as repeatedly shifted, changed, and exchanged projection surfaces, which in each case allow to be seen what other projection surfaces exclude from sight. As with the works sprayed in situ, the works exhibited here in the NAVE of St. Agnes pose first and foremost the question as to location: where is the painting?
Each individual work in the exhibition bears the imprint of the painting that it does not show under the condition of included time and excluded space. Thus the ambition of Grosse’s painting is to make the deficiency of the individual work into its actual subject-matter. If a painting succeeds in linking up with that part of painting that cannot be seen, then the potentiality of painting is brought to the fore. This results in curious paradoxes: a picture is the stronger the less it presents itself as a concluded and completed realization. Conversely, it requires such a realization to accord significance to what the picture lacks.
At 30 paces she could split a playing card is a phrase originally used to characterize the American sharpshooter Annie Oakley, who performed from 1885 onwards in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show.
© Images Roman März