The central issue in Katharina Grosse’s work is the category of pictoriality, which she constantly puts under pressure. Styrofoam, beds and bookshelves re-appear as tools, which provide textures different to walls or canvas. The inclusion of everyday objects has now broadened by the use of fake rocks, soil, containers or balloons which insert a spatial layer between the beholder and the wall. On close examination we discover in this exhibition details where paint was spray painted over the surface of balloons and the wall in one move and from a certain angle the fields of colour on the three-dimensional objects match with the fields behind. Katharina Grosse has a wonderful word for this: To give the colour a body.
The experience Katharina Grosse’s work offers to the beholder is to be both, inside the painting and looking at it. This experience is considerably different to the experience we normally have in front of a painting or object which claims to have pictoriality. An image in a conventional sense is a two-dimensional object with clear borders, simply defined by the fact that it ends and the wall or any other support system begins, defined by the difference between the image, in which a world of its own unfolds, and the space, in which it is shown. However in the case of this exhibition it is impossible to say where the painting ends and where the space begins. Painting and space merge. In this sense, the experience is similar to our everyday experience in the world around us but on the other hand the gallery space is completely artificial, carefully considered and executed, while the space outside is a mishmash of everything, a clash of contingent facts.
Grosse’s painting in the expanded field, her efforts to push the criterion of pictoriality to the limits, to create an almost baroque space of overwhelming visual power aims to break down the bourgeois distinction between the arts and life and to underpin the importance and invaluable contribution of the arts to our life.
The aggressive attack of the architecture in which Grosse installs her work is rarely mentioned which is unfortunate as aggressiveness can be something other than pure negative, destructive energy. It can be - and this is the case with her work - a reasonable gesture towards petrified and oppressing structures. Grosse’s work, which is in constant evolution, is essentially work against the limiting, restraining structures in our societies, if not work against the idea of structure itself. It can be used as a model, which can be made fertile in our daily life. And this is, besides the beauty, the joyfulness and grace of Katharina Grosse’s work, the benefit we can have from being inside her painting.