In the stylish neighborhood of Nişantaşı, the contemporary art space Dirimart is showing a series of paintings by German artist Katharina Grosse. Based in Berlin, Grosse gained international attention in the late 1990s, and today her works are in the collections of the Centre Pompidou and MoMA. Although she is known for installation and for painting on many surfaces including the gallery itself, Can You Spell Mixing takes a more traditional approach. All eight of her large acrylic paintings are displayed in simple wooden frames hung on the pristine, white gallery walls. Still, Grosse’s painting style is anything but traditional.
The many layers of paint reveal the artist’s process: Grosse begins with a neutral canvas that is either very light or dark, and applies acrylic paint in stripes. The brushstrokes imply the human hand and intentionally do not reach the edge of the canvas. Next, she blocks off part of the canvas and uses industrial spray paint to create colorful forms. Blurred edges give these forms a three-dimensional effect, bringing them to the ‘foreground’ of the painting, and the contrast between light and dark colors give her paintings a spatial quality.
Grosse does not try to control the paint but rather guides the process; although all eight paintings are created by the same series of steps, each one is unique because the distance that she keeps from the canvas leaves room for spontaneity to play its role. The paint takes on a variety of textures, sometimes dry, sometimes dripping, and sometimes taking on a grainy quality. The way the paint settles creates amorphous organic patterns, which give subtle hints into her process, suggesting whether the canvas was upright or lying flat.
It is apparent from this show that Grosse enjoys experimenting with color and knows how to use it to her advantage. She juxtaposes complementary colors with confidence and overlaps spray paints to create transitional areas where the colors can interact. She also has a strong sensibility for form, opposing horizontal, vertical, and diagonal elements to create dynamic compositions. Grosse’s work is not only about pushing conceptual boundaries and redefining art, but also about beauty, fun, and playful experimentation. On view until September 3rd, her first show in Turkey is free of charge and definitely worth seeing. Abdi İpekçi Caddesi No. 7/4, Nişantaşı; P: (0212) 291 34 34