Andrew Grassie's paintings are based on photographs he has taken himself or that he, in some cases, has found. Often they have been elaborately staged, although this effort is veiled by the ostensibly unassuming matter-of-factness the small, precisely painted works exude. The works are executed with tempera, a technique associated with pre-Renaissance panel paintings anteceding the development of oil paint. Tempera dries very rapidly and remains relatively sheer. To create cover and solid colours, many layers are needed.Read More
Grassie's paintings of exhibition views have a stillness that sometimes belies their subject matter, for example those of the process of installation. The images have a timeless quality, even though they also suggest an action is taking place, that the inhabitants of these spaces had perhaps only briefly left the room or wandered offstage or off screen. His recent series entitled 'Fabrication' depicts specialised workshops, both industrial and artisanal, where art works are being produced.
The works combine absolute self-negation with absolute assertion of control: In the process of painting a photograph that includes other artists' works, Grassie is both chameleon-like depicting those works; at the same time, the spatial and conceptual constructions in which his images of installation engage (particularly the fictional ones 'curated' by him for his own works), grant him momentary control over the space and history of an institution. In addition, his insertion of a fixed point of view can at times be disorienting to the spectator: Even as one probes a believable space, one's ability to explore is restrained.
Grassie has spoken of creating an 'airtight quality that creates a sort of aura of mystery around simple things,' comparing the effect to a vacuum, 'as if reality were wrapped in cling film or a layer of thick air.'
Text courtesy Esther Schipper.
In Vancouver's Chinatown, an area wedged between the gleaming office towers of the city's affluent West End and the city’s poorest neighbourhood, Downtown Eastside, is a gallery showcasing work from one of the world’s leading private collections. Housed in a restored iteration of Chinatown’s oldest building, the...
Entering Andrew Grassie's new exhibition, you'd be forgiven for thinking: is this it? Seven tiny images in a single white room? Five minutes, and I've looked round all the paintings at Maureen Paley gallery, read the three-paragraph press release, and moved onto my second round. Grassie's paintings are all the same size, no bigger than a...