Another strongly emotional reaction traditionally connected with painting (and above all abstraction) is the one aroused by the vision and perception of colour. From as far back as Monet’s water lilies and haystacks, theoretically interpreted by Kandinsky as chromatic reflections of the mind, colours have been associated with transcendental and spiritual feelings (in the work of Mark Rothko, for example) and the different human moods they can sometimes arouse. It is in connection with this chromatic energy and emotional reaction that Katharina Grosse was asked to produce a specific work for EMOTIONAL SYSTEMS. She establishes a dialogue with architectural space and enters into a direct relationship with it, undertaking a careful study of the environment in which her work is to be placed with respect to architectural and technical as well as aesthetic and symbolic aspects.
In the case of the CCCS, the artist decided to react to the multiple layers of reality overlapping in the space of
this Renaissance building and protected historical monument. The panels fitted to the walls as protective cladding constitute a second layer of reality upon which Grosse in turn superimposes another layer, another panel, as the point of departure for her work. This lasts over several days. The artist isolates herself completely from the outside world, wearing protective overalls, a breathing mask and often also earpieces, as she applies large amounts of colour with a spray gun. Grosse describes spraying as endowed with almost aggressive force. The paint covers all existing realities and forms a new skin that always starts from a central point and spreads out over all the surrounding space. When covered with layers of paint, all the objects and elements seem to lose their original character and proportions with respect to space.
The artist previously worked with elements of everyday life, e.g. by moving all the furniture of her bedroom or great heaps of sand and stones into a museum and covering them in paint. In the work at the CCCS, Katharina Grosse makes another crack in the erception of reality and experiments for the first time with the use of various coloured
lights to illuminate the spray-painted surfaces. She examines the fragile balance of the known and the new, attempting through the power of colour to create completely new experiences in known spatial realities. Her spatial vision, her particular form of bodily involvement and experience of reality are translated into colour through the immediate and impulsive use of spray painting. The sense of movement of her huge chromatic fields derives from the absence of any closed, specific form and the dissolving of outlines. Her creative energy therefore behaves in an unexpected and uncontrollable way and the spectator cannot avoid being swept up in a physical and emotional whirlwind.