Pin It
Katharina Grosse Mumbling Mud
Installation view of Katharina Grosse Mumbling MudCourtesy of Katharina Grosse and the K11 Art Foundation, Shanghai

This painter proves that art belongs on any, and every, surface

Artist Katharina Grosse hopes her sprawling acrylic paint installations will change how and where we experience art

German artist Katharina Grosse’s sprawling acrylic paintings stretch across abandoned houses, public parks, and entire warehouses to show that art isn't something limited to certified spaces. “A painting can land and remain anywhere: on a rubber boot, in the crook of the arm, along a train platform, in the snow and ice, or on the beach,” explains Grosse, while speaking about her current show Mumbling Mud at Chi K11 Art museum in Shanghai. “And if painting isn’t connected to a place, then the imagination is not connected to a place; this means that it is always possible to also view and experience reality differently. Not only there where I show it. Everywhere. Always. Here. Now. With my painting, I seek to cause vehement agitation. I want us to be so disturbed, positively or negatively, that we develop the wish to change something.”

For Grosse, painting as a cross-dimensional practice is an idea that comes from her time as a student and would engage with work in art spaces in non-traditional ways. She also references the piercing energy of artist Cy Twombly as a key figure in her work. “Cy Twombly’s drawings were among the first artworks that I saw when I was six or seven. The muchness in his works to me looked as if it was torn out from somewhere as if one had pulled out from the earth a piece of grass with its roots, lumps of soil, and tiny animals living there while screaming: ‘Look at this!’. Nothing is mediated, everything is direct. I value this extreme urgency and this level of excitation; Twombly’s paintings make me extremely alert.”

“With my painting, I seek to cause vehement agitation. I want us to be so disturbed, positively or negatively, that we develop the wish to change something” – Katharina Grosse

Twombly’s intoxicating energy can be seen as translated through Grosse’s vivid use of colour. “Colour is very important to me because it creates an immediate resonance with you,” Grosse reflects. “Before you know it, you have a visceral reaction to it like a voice in a performance where it hits you before you hear the words or lyrics.” When it comes to colour selection, Grosse aims to throw off predetermined ideas about colour schemes and palettes. “Colour can really change a lot. If a lemon is painted blue, for instance, your whole experiences of lemons can change completely. I think colour is the most magical surface changer.”

As an artist who has always pushed and redefined the boundaries of art, for next-generation artists Grosse heralds innovation as her key point of advice. “It is necessary to understand whether history to you is a linear story of progress, for example, or an accessible pool of experiences,” states Grosse. “How do we acquire knowledge in the age of upcoming AI? You need to define the role of the screen in your work and life. Painters have to go and see painting in the flesh. Painting shares the physical space of the now and the past at the same time. The experience of compressed time is a good way to start.”

Mumbling Mud is on at Chi K11 Art Museum, Shanghai until 24 February 2019. You can find out more here