Katharina Grosse’s oeuvre has continued to occupy one of the most important positions in international painting since the early 1990s. Constant innovation and variable perspectives run through her ideas and work, in which she systematically questions and expands the notion of painting in a remarkable way. Grosse says recently in an interview with Louise Neri, “painting allows me the most direct transmission of thinking into action, my paintings are the direct physical residue of my thinking.” She first began using various paint brushes before she began primarily working with a spray paint gun in 1998 to heighten our awareness of painting as a relational, spatial, fundamentally performative phenomenon under conditions of radical subjectivity.
It is first and foremost the active conquest of space and architecture through painting that has given the artist's work flexibility and distinctiveness on equal counts. It is no longer about expanding painting through its transgression from the canvas format, but rather pictures “pop up” everywhere. In the mentioned interview Katharina Grosse states: “The painted image is a contribution of reality that is introduced into an existing network of other images. (…) Color is not topical; it is not linked to space. It is totally independent of site, surface, or even object. These are key points in my work: how I manage to develop painting as intricate patterns of emotional information, and that painting can appear anywhere,” as seen in large-scale prominently in the International Pavilion at the 2015 Venice Biennale, or recently as the site specific intervention for the Rockaway! series of the MoMA PS1 in 2016 at Fort Tilden, New York.
Whether site specific or in the studio, the starting point of Grosse's work is without reference. “I am fascinated by the image in which no identity whatsoever is being offered. I am interested in an imminent state, where just enough is generated to understand that a pattern or informative structure is about to build. That’s the starting point and then there are many things I want to know about this status, which has to do with the experience of prelinguistic thinking,” the artist says in the same interview. On the surface, or in the room, the painting is open and receptive to countless occurrences that happen during the painting process. With deliberate concentration, using unmixed acrylics, Grosse time and again brings to the canvas new structures and procedures that spring forth from the act of painting, and are potentially given clarity and perspective dimension by use of stencils. The outcome is a beguiling, overpowering painting practice that offers countless possibilities for reception.