February 23rd, 2011
Artist: Katharina Grosse
Images courtesy of MASS MoCA, North Adams
Katharina Grosse is known for the vibrant palette and exuberant gestures of her large-scale canvases and raucous installations which merge painting, sculpture, and architecture. Wielding a spray gun instead of a brush, Grosse often paints directly on the walls, floors, or facades of her exhibition sites, altering the logic and scale of architecture itself. In an effort to liberate her works from the Euclidian space of wall and floor, Grosse also incorporates into her multidimensional paintings a variety of unexpected objects, including beds, clothes, balloons, shaped canvases, and soil. Joining these incongruous elements in a continuous flow of color, Grosse opens up a new path for painting while rearranging conventions, hierarchy, and our very habits of seeing.
At MASS MoCA the artist has applied her atmospheric veils of paint to four mounds of soil which seem to spill from the upper balcony into the enormous space below. Stacks of Styrofoam shards rise out of the seductive mountains of color, mirroring the white of the gallery walls — the metaphorical canvas of Grosse’s tremendous painting. While the sprawling installation provokes associations with a psychedelic, glacial landscape, Grosse’s work is not representational. Her electric, sometimes dissonant palette is meant to temper the impulse to read the work as a recognizable image. Instead, the anarchic work embraces a state of ambiguity that allows for alternative ways of processing what is seen – whether in the installation’s vast changes in scale or the shifting identities of its components in which mountains become piles of raw pigment and sliced Styrofoam appears tectonic.
The work’s most salient connection to geography lies in the viewer’s ability to walk by, around, and above Grosse’s undulating fields of color as they unfold over time and space. Traversing the galleries, visitors are given the opportunity to understand Grosse’s painting from multiple vantage points both outside and inside the work itself and, as the exhibition’s title obliquely implies, stumble toward a higher plane of perception. Working in both real and pictorial space simultaneously, the artist emphasizes the instability of what we know as reality and the potentiality in what lies beyond the limits of conditioned sight and thought.
Major support for this exhibition is provided by the Art Mentor Foundation Lucerne. Additional support from the Toby D. Lewis Philanthropic Fund of the Jewish Community Federation of Cleveland, the Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen e.V., the Massachusetts Cultural Council, and anonymous donors.
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Fine art is becoming more and more available to the masses as the graphic designers of the day push the boundaries between art and design. I’ve quite frankly, become quite bored with what most people pass off as “Fine Art” these days. Most gallery artists and scenesters have worked incredibly hard to make themselves celebrities and icons, instead of artists. They create art that only people who have lots and lots of disposable income can afford. They put the artist on a pedestal above the viewer… and the art suffers. It’s dangerous to put the art and artist above the viewer. The viewer gets alienated, and then people wonder why the public at large doesn’t have much interest in art. Who can blame them? They’ve had shoulders turned to them. But these artists aren’t above slapping their images on a tee shirt. It’s not selling out, it’s beautifying the world. These artists are making graphic art that’s smart, fun, and perceptive of the world around them. The best part is, you’ve probably seen almost all of these folks work in one way or another. It’s out there…
A modern Paul Klee. Bold, graphic line drawings that have enough integrity and imagination to jump over that line of graphic design and into the world of fine art. Like Paul Klee, he plays with lines and colors. There is a rhythm to his paintings. Squiggly lines and shapes play and overlap with strange amoeba like heads and creatures. Incredibly fun to look at. Are graphics art? Yes. http://www.gosub.de/dag/
The best comic book artist there is right now. He refuses to cater to the Joe Quesada school of huge eyes, hands and feet on short, angular bodies. His, flowing, painterly line quality sets him far apart from not only mainstream comics artists, but also, most of the independent artists who seem to be stuck in an all too cutesy style lately. In my opinion, no one can approach him. He’s one of the few comic makers that I still hold any interest in, he’s got more than just style. The fluidness of his drawings brings real warmth and life to the subjects he draws, and his stories possess an often child-like joy under all the darkness. Everything from spindly legged robots to tough school girls and circus freaks. Beautiful, humorous, stuff. I’m not sure Paul Pope ever sleeps. He’s currently doing a Spiderman book and his own series, 100%, about life in New York City. http://www.paulpope.com/
Anime on piss and vinegar. Nara makes cute things sharp. Paintings, sculptures, album covers, and snow globes. Though the idea isn’t really new, “Things aren’t always what they seem…”, Nara grabs people’s attention by making his paintings so deliciously irresistible. Bright and warm colors draw you in, and then you notice the not-quite-right part. Little girls with wry looks and bloody hands. Farting doggies. Lollipops shoved into mouths. He’s being pimped all the time in the pages of Giant Robot. Pick up a copy right now, and I guarantee that they’ll mention him at least once. http://www.happyhour.jp/
Yeah, it’s the Super Furry Animals guy. He paints the monsters that live in the modern world. And I don’t mean that in a metaphorical, George W. Bush sorta way. I mean that in a big, hulking monsters talking on their cell phones on a street corner sort of way. Cheeky. http://www.monsterism.net/
Sadly, Margaret has passed on, and is painting in some other place, some other thing, some other… that isn’t here. But she left behind an amazing body of work. Whimsical and lovely, collage like paintings that were inspired by graffiti art and old sign lettering. One of the biggest bummers ever, is that we’ll never get any new Kilgallen work. http://www.paulsonpress.com/html/margaret_kilgallen.html
MTV, The Virgin Suicides, Grand Royal Magazine… just to drop some names. Geoff’s work is very bold. His designs often look utilitarian and simple, but his color choices and subjects ooze warmth. http://www.shift.jp.org/044/gasbook8/artist/geoffmcfetridge/ http://www.championdontstop.com/
AAAAAAHHHHH!!!! Cartoons on acid! Is it a bad trip or a good one? It’s pretty hard to tell. Strange creatures with toothy grins get distorted in Picasso like fashion and live in little worlds a lot like ours. They watch TV, put on lipstick and pick flowers. They also tote guns and needles and take power lunches. Social commentary coated in candy colors. http://www.jimavignon.com/
Drawings of hipster kids get the Keren treatment and suddenly have amputated arms and fucked up teeth. Chicken drumsticks sprout wings and float about the mutants. Loose and fun and definitely someone to watch out for. http://www.notkeren.com
Barry Mc Gee
Also known as “Twist”, Barry Mc Gee started doing graffiti in his native San Francisco, but his distinctive style set him apart from most writers who, for the most part, all stuck to very similar looks. His droopy eyed faces and blank word balloons are often layered with collage like blocks of color and even found objects. He’s a city guy makin’ city art. http://www.ruf.rice.edu/~ruag/99F/mcgee/mcgee.html
Much like Yoshitomo Nara, Mark Ryden likes to take the cuteness out of the cute things. His incredibly rich and detailed paintings often portray wide-eyed children surrounded by cuts of raw meat and religious icons. Every object in his paintings is a reference to something, childhood memories, science, historical figures, cryptic logos and uh… meat. His skill at his craft is impeccable.
|By: Colleen Delaney Published on: 2002-08-05|