Stefan Gritsch

Galerie Friedrich

A broad, loosely constructed platform of raw lattice and boards stands chest high at the entrance to the gallery. On it are grouped many hand-sized pigment-objects—layered polychrome cloth rectangles; squares poured in strict geometric layers; massive shards of color attached with paint to small cumbersome lump-complexes—and seeing them at this angle affords a distanced overview of them without diminishing the sense of their physical presence. As one’s gaze moves along the lined-up or overlapping elements, it becomes increasingly clear that this large untitled installation, 1999, serves one purpose—that of exposing colored bodies to the gaze and touch.

Stefan Gritsch goes beyond using paint to cover a surface. He sees it as a form of matter, one that he has been subjecting to unusual procedures for years now. In most painting, acrylic obeys a tendency to spread, but in Gritsch’s hands it solidifies into pigment-dreams. He pours various colors into wooden molds and leaves them to dry over a period of weeks into solid cubical forms. He repeatedly dips balls of paint until they patchily grow into clumps. He rolls out table-sized fields of acrylic in order to achieve pure skins of color, only to tear them to shreds and roll them into rods, fold them, and press them. Monochrome acrylic panels are slapped to the wall with fluid color, as we see in another pair of untitled works, both 1999, in the gallery’s back room. The rashly determined act links “picture,” hanging, and space.

This sequence of sculptural gestures is less an examination of the foundations of painting than an attempt to disclose the color of a world. Pragmatic experiment betrays a deep-reaching skepticism of utopian designs. Gritsch sets the continued openness of his experience—which over the years has always brought him to new objects—against the exclusive and systematic nature of concepts. Every exhibition gathers further evidence for an empirical cosmology of color.

In the end, there is at best an image—which, as Ulrich Loock remarked in a gallery talk, Gritsch’s work constantly postpones. The arrangement of objects on the table congeals into a tableau, if only for an instant. Then it could well be that the objects are cleared away to become material for new states of affairs, as the perpetual metamorphosis of color follows its course.

Hans Rudolf Reust

Translated from German by Elizabeth Felicella.