Katharina Grosse: a prismatic ambush at Louis Vuitton Venice


The shimmering and iridescent installation by Katharina Grosse envelops the Espace Louis Vuitton in Venice

The new theatrical installation by German artist Katharina Grosse at Espace Louis Vuitton Venezia evokes a fluid and prismatic fabric that envelops objects and invites contemplation.

“Venice’s urban texture is so dense and multilayered that I decided to turn the Espace Louis Vuitton Venezia into a black box, to create a feeling of both remoteness and intimacy,” says Katharina Grosse. The German artist is well known for her prismatic paroxysms of paint that often take on monumental proportions, even dousing entire buildings with an industrial paint sprayer, as she did at Fort Tilden in the Rockaways, New York in 2016. His appearance as part of the official program of the collateral event of the 59th Venice Biennale is a scintillating and dreamlike new installation, Apollo, Apollowhich captures the quintessence of the Venetian setting as a sensory experience.

Iridescent and shimmering, Grosse’s meticulous installation flows like a single flowing fabric (made of wire mesh) from wall to floor. The impact of its shimmering and theatrical colors is reinforced by the contrast with the black interior and the particular lighting of the space. The work conveys the aesthetic feeling of Venice by reflecting its reflective optical qualities, found in the local materials associated with the city and its architecture: water, Murano glass, Fortuny silk and terrazzo mosaics.

The exhibition at Espace Louis Vuitton represents Grosse’s first time printing a photograph on a wire mesh material, which looks like knitted sequins and envelops the entire piece like armor. “There’s an almost painful beauty to the temporality of my site-bound paintings, given that they usually disappear,” says Grosse. “So I started to collect and study the visual residues of work processes, both on site and in my workshops.” Grosse began printing photographic images onto fabrics as part of her practice in 2013: “By transforming these images into large-scale prints on silk, polyester or wire mesh, I was able to achieve a ghostly photographic presence, which emphasizes the ephemeral quality of the original works.’

Various objects have been placed under the mesh, prompting us to imagine what is hidden beneath, or why – a folding chair, a pair of boots – suggesting stories and the presence of the artist. Barely noticeable on the surface of the metallic fabric is a printed composite image of the artist’s hands. These moments explore the connection between the mediums of painting and photography, and the pervasive tensions in Grosse’s work between image and body, physicality and illusion. All this evokes an ethereal and fantastic feeling. “This experience allowed me to disconnect the photographic from the paradigm of the figurative and to link it rather to the paradigm of presence”, notes Grosse.

Apollo, Apollo is one of three projects Grosse will produce at Louis Vuitton during the year – at the Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris in May, she will unveil the sparklean installation of 20 painted plywood triangles as part of a collective exhibition inspired by the architecture of Frank Gehry. the sparkle will have “a very strong physical presence and contrapuntal dialogue with Gehry’s dynamic architectural space, which I have begun to see as an interface between daylight and painting”. In the fall, she will unveil Canyon at the Foundation – another installation in response to Gehry in which “painted, cut-out canvases lead to entangled rolled aluminum shapes suspended from the ceiling of the building. It’s a huge undertaking and a work in progress,” says Grosse.

For someone who has worked on a large scale in locations around the world, this work has a more intimate and contemplative feel, encouraging a deeper look within, rather than expanding the sense of space like Big l often did. Unlike the epic, weighty works of Anselm Kiefer and Anish Kapoor, who have concurrent solo exhibitions in Venice, Grosse’s work also offers a place of quietude and solace. In fact, the breadth of the divine is implied, ironically, in the title of the exhibit, a reference to the omnipotent deity whose power was to give mortals consciousness and self-awareness.

Grosse herself sees the work, amidst a world of chaos, as a “poetic appeal to the possibility of human coexistence as a slippery, fluid and constantly renegotiable iridescence, where form and image change and oscillate constantly in relation to the viewer’s perception of it. .’ §


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