about the work
The Spanish conceptual artist Irene Grau deals with the relationship between painting and landscape, space and color. Physical space, movement, and working play a central role in many of her projects; wandering is a component of her artistic practice. Analogous to painting, she sees it as a process of appropriating and experiencing space. In this way, she not only moves in the tradition of 19th century open-air painting but also concretely follows her predecessors’ footsteps for the project The Carrier and seeks out the locations of her motifs. Nevertheless, she is not an outdoor painter in the classical sense but pursues a conceptual approach with which she explores and redefines the genre of landscape painting. Using the possibilities of monochrome painting, photography, and intervention, she searches for new ways of perceiving landscape. She sees this as a field of experimentation to arrive at a different way of seeing, thus expanding the understanding of what landscape painting can be.
In the exhibition Sensing Nature, Irene Grau shows three text-based works. They differ in size and monochrome color, ranging from light to dark gray. Image-filling texts that describe the landscape. The names mentioned in them, Camille Corot, Jacob von Ruisdael, and Louis
Eysen, suggest that they refer to works by important landscape painters. Irene Grau has taken the texts from the digital collection of the St del Museum in Frankfurt. They correspond to the usual museum signage and describe what the viewer currently sees in the picture. Despite this redundancy, written information plays a vital role in exhibition practice. This relationship between text and image changes radically when the image is replaced only by its description. On this basis, the recipient must reconstruct a specific landscape in his or her mind. With this reversal, Irene Grau raises the question of what landscape is: an actual physical place or rather a mental, cultural construction? The way the writing is painted provides an answer. The individual letters show clear brush marks with which she has applied the oil paint. She thus refers to traditional oil painting, which evokes that it is “only” a painted landscape.
Spanish artist Irene Grau (* 1986 in Valencia) lives and works in Santiago de Compostela. In her work, Grau is primarily concerned with color to change space and its perception. Indeed, the close analysis of a place and its transformation through color is almost omnipresent in her work – an approach that places her in the tradition of radical monochrome painting, mural painting, the performative process, and landscape perception – the latter in its broadest sense. The title of her doctoral thesis, The Painter on the Road, perfectly sums up her interest and attitude towards the medium of painting. Thus, Graus can undoubtedly be described as a conceptual plein airist who says that her work is „what remains“ of a more extensive experience that goes far beyond the physically traveled landscape, an explored architectural structure, or cultural encounters. In 2010 she was awarded an Academic Excellence Scholarship, followed by a 2011-2015 FPU Fellowship from the Spanish Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport, which enabled her to pursue her Ph.D. studies. In 2016, she received her Ph.D. in Fine Arts from the Polytechnic University of Valencia. Among other prizes and scholarships, Grau received the Premio Generaciones, one of the most prestigious prizes in Spain, which comes with an exhibition at La Casa Encendida in Madrid. In 2016, he was mentioned on the Forbes 30 under 30 lists in the Arts-Europe section. Most recently, her work has been shown at Abroms-Engel Institute for the Visual Arts (AEIVA), Birmingham, Bombon Projects, Barcelona, Centro Cultural de Espa a in Mexico City, Espacio Valverde, Fundaci n DIDAC, Santiago de Compostela, and Madison Museum of Contemporary Art (MMoCA), Madison, Wisconsin. In 2022, she will have her next institutional solo exhibition at Appleton Square, Lisbon, Portugal.