Margaret Thatcher Projects is pleased to present SEEING DOUBLE, the gallery’s fourth solo exhibition of New York-based German artist Rainer Gross. Featuring the artist’s continuing exploration of sensuous abstract paintings from his Twins series, the exhibition will open on Thursday, September 21, and run through, October 28, 2023.
Gross’ painting process is almost scientific in nature. As their name suggests, these ‘twin’ paintings are two nearly identical painted surfaces that the artist presents as a diptych; each panel imprinting on and mirroring the other. He begins by applying several layers of different-colored pigments on one canvas; each layer enveloping the last completely, eventually creating palpable texture. After thickly coating the second canvas in oil paint, both are pressed together and allowed to cure overnight. Gross then pulls them apart to reveal similar compositions on each. The left and right images end up sharing lush, flowing patches of acidic color or rich earth tones with heavy flakes of cracked impasto, yet they differ in both intensity, and overall positioning of elements on the surface. This idiosyncratic technique produces a consciously irregular scene, and a duality that is both a bit wild and seductive. Although they’re twins in theory, the subtle disparities along with the unpredictability of paint adhesion ultimately gives each canvas their own unique fingerprint.
Inspired by the Fluxus movement and its use of chance, the artist embraces random occurrences in the creation of his Twin series. In addition to the innately unforeseen outcome of his contact painting technique, Gross titles his diptychs by arbitrarily selecting names from a phonebook. The paired paintings become a conceptual endeavor as the artist relinquishes full control, allowing fate and chance to assert their opportunity. “There’s some kind of birthing process that goes into them. I liked the distancing, the organic randomness of nature”, he states.
Rainer Gross was born in Köln, Germany in 1951. He has lived and worked in New York City for 45 years. In 2017, Gross was included in the Beijing Biennale as a representative of Germany. In 2012, the Museum Ludwig (Koblenz, Germany) held a four-decade survey of his paintings. Other notable national and international exhibits include the Musée Cantonal des Beaux-Arts (Lausanne, Switzerland), Krannert Art Museum and Kinkead Pavilion (Champaign, Illinois), Kunsthalle Emden (Emden, Germany), Galerie Stefan Röpke (Köln, Germany), and Galerie Arnés y Röpke, (Madrid, Spain). Gross’ paintings are housed in numerous public collections, including the AT&T Corporate Art Collection, the Cohen Family Collection, the Hirschhorn Collection, the UBS Union Bank of Switzerland, and the Lowe Art Museum. His work has been reviewed by the New York Times, Art in America, ArtNews, The Brooklyn Rail, The Boston Globe, and others.