Art review: Katharina Grosse at Christopher Grimes Gallery
Usually, graffiti registers as an affirmation of presence in the world on behalf of socially marginal or even invisible people or ideas. Eleven engaging new paintings, all untitled, by Katharina Grosse turn that familiar experience inside out.
Best known for site-specific abstract paintings that sometimes encompass architectural environments, the German artist here applies calligraphic bursts of sprayed color that seem to be slipping into invisibility. It's an uncanny effect.
Using cutouts and templates laid down on canvas, then painted over and removed, Grosse creates layered fields of complex visual space. The color varies between linear and atmospheric. Sometimes it's gestural, tracking the movement of the artist's hand and arm. Elsewhere it's aqueous, the result of chemical interaction among pigments. And in places it looks natural, like an accident of weather.
Like a Sam Francis mural, Andy Warhol oxidation painting or abstractions by Ed Moses and Dan Christensen, a Grosse painting elides or even erases the inner dynamic of Expressionist art. For all their optical agitation and chromatic splendor, the paintings seem to open up a hermetic void.
Four paintings in the rear gallery offer a twist, in firm, diagonal strokes of color laid on with a wide brush. The gestures overlap, as if canceling each other out. Erasure has rarely looked so bracing and luscious as it does in this show.
-- Christopher Knight
Christopher Grimes Gallery, 916 Colorado Ave., Santa Monica, (310) 587-3373, through Jan. 8. www.cgrimes.com
Photo: Katharina Grosse, "Untitled," 2010. Credit: Christopher Grimes Gallery