Rainer Gross

Press Release

 Galerie Richard is pleased to represent Rainer Gross in New York and Paris and present his first show in the New York gallery titled "Contact Paintings" from September 4 to October 26, 2019. Galerie Richard has exhibited Rainer Gross in Paris in 1990 and 1997. The "Twin Paintings" and "Contact Paintings" are a definitive unique achievement by the artist in the history of painting. As their name implies, the compositions are two painted surfaces that the artist presents as a diptych, each panel imprinting on and mirroring the other. With the modesty of a philosopher, he admits that he controls the general composition but nature makes the details. This unpredictability is part of the everlasting fascination the viewers engage with these paintings.


"Gross' process is alchemic in nature. He first paints six or seven layers of different-colored pigments suspended in water on one canvas. These are neither a solid color nor a pattern, but each layer covers the last completely. He then applies an approximately 1/8-inch-thick layer of paint on another canvas of equal size, pressing them together and leaving them to "cure" overnight. Once the materials have dried, Gross pulls the canvases apart, revealing the parts of the surface that have adhered to the other." This idiosyncratic technique produces a consciously unpredictable crackled impasto landscape that you can infinitely refer to other materials or textures altered by time. He hangs the double painting upside down, confusing the viewer by escaping obvious symmetries.


Understanding Rainer Gross paintings requests to recognize the challenge to become a painter in the '70s in Cologne, when the ideology of "The End of Painting" professed by Joseph Beuys and Associates at the Kunst Akademie Düsseldorf became a dominant ideology amongst the "elite" of the art world. Choosing to be a painter at that time meant thinking about the specificities of the medium, and the new ways to develop the history of the medium. From figuration to abstraction, Rainer Gross series shared one common point: they reveal every layer of paint and texture. From sticking kitsch canvases on his paintings, superimposing geometrical lines on figurative subjects, to the "Twin Paintings" and the "Contact Paintings", it has always been a play of visible superimpositions of various layers of paint.


The key difference between the new paintings is the importance of the process itself in the making of the work. The artist controls the original first painting. After that, it is altered by the pressure of the additional canvas which will take off part of the pigments in an unpredictable way. I presume it must be a wonderful feeling to discover a new creation which in many aspects did not depend on you and surprise yourself. The fascination for these works partly comes from the fascination for this unexpected and unpredictable part of the process, which brings a sense of infinity. In this aspect, it is interesting to associate Rainer Gross to some Asian contemporary artists such as Kiyoshi Nakagami, who never pretended as artists to have total control of the creative process and are happy to discover how natural processes interact in the final result.


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). 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.