Katharina Grosse: Chill Seeping from the Walls Gets between Us
HAM Helsinki Art Museum 8
June 08, 2021 – January 23, 2022
The re-opening coincide with the opening of German artist Katharina Grosse’s exhibition at Tennispalatsi. Grosse has become internationally known for her large on-site paintings, which she sprays across objects, architectural structures and landscapes. In her first solo exhibition in Finland, Grosse will be taking over both of the arched halls on the upper floor of HAM. On display will be two new pieces for which the artists will transform the exhibition spaces into massive, all-encompassing spatial works of art. Grosse will be pointing one of the two pieces on-site, using the bright and vibrant colours characteristic of her art. Defying the conventions of two-dimensionality, Grosse’s paintings can be considered a form of intervention, painting as she does over architecture and surfaces while paying no heed to boundaries, or as a membrane between different realities. Grosse points on all conceivable media, both indoors and out. An industrial spray gun provides the artist with the reach necessary to create her massive pieces. Grosse’s rapid way of working allows her to seamlessly translate thought into action. She uses acrylic paints and ready-made industrial colours that are only mixed to form new tones upon reaching the surface being painted. The finished paintings reflect the artist’s train of thought and movement within the space.
HAM’s southern hall is filled by a three-dimensional painting based on over a thousand meters of cloth tied into knots. The mountain of cloth falling into folds from the ceiling and spreading across the floor was painted by the artist on-site. The dozens of over-and inter-lapping tones form a vast painting that visitors can step into. With each step, the piece shows a different side of itself. The physical experience of the painting is affected by the observer’s own movement, changes in perspective and the presence of other people in the same space. Occupying HAM’s northern hall, her second piece consists of a labyrinthine assembly of thin, silky fabrics hung from the ceiling and reaching all the way to the floor. Printed on the fabrics are photographs the artist took in her studios and her previous installations. The photographs show what is left behind by the painting process on walls or floors.
They show paintings in the making and finished ones, adapted in scale to the galleries. They revisit the notions of invisible space, absent space and folded matter. The art and artist are gone, yet their presence lingers. The printed photographs move the originally spatial and temporary act of painting and its residue into a new space, where the colours shine as real. The fabric prints have been previously seen as part of exhibitions in Stockholm and Shanghai, among other places. However, the work to be displayed at HAM is unique in scope and represents a new branch in Grosse’s output exploring the ”potentiality of painting”: With the photographic prints, the pantopia of painting is joined by its panchrony: painting can not only appear everywhere and anywhere, but also at each and any time – it exists even when it is no longer, or not yet, Visible. (Ulrich Loock: Katharina Grosse – Pantopochronia, essay in the Katharina Grosse’s exhibition catalogue, HAM 2021).
Born in Freiburg im Breisgau in 1961, Katharina Grosse lives and works in Berlin and New Zealand. Her recent institutional exhibitions and in situ paintings include psychy/ustro, for Philadelphia Mural Arts Programme (2014); yes no why later at Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, Moscow (2015); Seven Hours, Eight Rooms, Three Trees at Museum Wiesbaden (2015); Untitled Trumpet for the 56th Biennale di Venezia (2015); Rockaway for MoMA PS1’s Rockaway! programme in Fort Tilden, New York (2016); Asphalt Air and Hair at ARoS Triennial, Aarhus (2017); The Horse Trotted Another Couple of Metres, Then It Stopped at Carriageworks, Sydney (2018); Wunderbild at National Gallery in Prague (2018/2019); Mumbling Mud at chi K11 art museum in Shanghai (2018/2019) and chi K11 art space in Guangzhou (2019); and, most recently, It Wasn’t Us at Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum fUr Gegenwart – Berlin (2020/2021). The Chill Seeping from the Walls Gets between Us exhibition is curated by Head of Exhibitions Pirkko Siitari and Curator Sanna Tuulikangas from HAM. HAM will also be publishing an accompanying book with the same title to coincide with the exhibition. Katharina Grosse is also one of the featured artists of the Helsinki Biennial opening in summer 2021.