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Massive Spray Paintings Turn Tagger Tools into Fine Art Ammo

Katharina Grosse's energetic paintings owe the tagger's aerosol bottle for its unique textures.

Diana Shi

Diana Shi

Katharina Grosse, Untitled, 2016. Acrylic on canvas, 114 3/16 x 76 inches / 290 x 193 cm (GROSS 2016.0009) © Katharina Grosse und VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2016. Photo by Jens Ziehe. Courtesy Gagosian

At first glance, each work in a series of color-filled and linearly-appealing artworks seem worked over by the nimblest brushstrokes, producing gauzy dashes that collapse into neat alignment. The true nature of each of these works is not so traditional—most of these pieces are half air, realized on canvas from a spray compressor gun.

The vivid, shifting works of Katharina Grosse's new solo show at Gagosian have a natural fluidity between them. Like a silk scarf ripped through a torrent of wind, her paintings fly from one canvas to the next, giving off the impression they are intrinsically connected to one another as a unit.

Katharina Grosse, Untitled, 2016. Acrylic on canvas, 118 1/8 x 78 3/4 inches / 300 x 200 cm (GROSS 2016.0019) © Katharina Grosse und VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2016. Photo by Jens Ziehe. Courtesy Gagosian

Katharina Grosse, Untitled, 2016. Acrylic on canvas, 118 1/8 x 90 9/16 inches / 300 x 230 cm (GROSS 2016.0005) © Katharina Grosse und VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2016. Photo by Jens Ziehe. Courtesy Gagosian

Normally, Grosse’s work places roots on a piece of architecture, such as a beachside home wrapped in amoebic strains of pigment or her similarly vacant orange-drenched home at New Orleans’ Prospect.1 Biennial. Her latest series of spray-paint works plays with elements of dimension and creating depth with a seemingly uniform pattern broken up by a disintegration of line and color. Intersecting drips of brash saturation are juxtaposed against softer but unmanipulated color.

© Katharina Grosse und VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2017. Photo by Rob McKeever. Courtesy Gagosian

Born in Freiburg, Germany and currently working in Berlin, Grosse engages with experimentations in paint velocity and acrylic application. A misshapen organic spread, half resembling a scrambled image of a horse’s profile, appears fresh surrounding by a background of white, created with stencils and filtes. In reality, the white is applied over a  strategically-applied jungle of paint, thus creating definition and something of a spray-paint paper-cutting. Though Grosse has previously worked upon 3D surfaces, her work on 2D canvases within a traditional gallery space is a nod to her flexibility with different mediums, as well as her long-lasting love of chroma.

In a quote from the gallery description, Grosse speaks about her current body of works, created over the last year: “A painting is simply a screen between the producer and the spectator where both can look at the thought processes residing on the screen from different angles and points in time. It enables me to look at the residue of my thinking.”

© Katharina Grosse und VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2017. Photo by Rob McKeever. Courtesy Gagosian

© Katharina Grosse und VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2017. Photo by Rob McKeever. Courtesy Gagosian

Katharina Grosse’s solo show exhibits at Gagosian Gallery in New York City through March 11, 2017. Find more details about the show here.

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