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2019.04.08 Mon, by
Katharina Grosse: Mumbling Mud is Opening at K11 Guangzhou

(Guangzhou, March 30, 2019) The solo exhibition of German female artist Katharina Grosse: Mumbling Mud is opening at K11 Guangzhou. This is the first solo exhibition of Katharina Grosse in south China after its first launch in Shanghai. The exhibition is presented by K11 Art Foundation (KAF) and Guangzhou chi K11 art space. Three large-scale immersive installations related to the space will occupy different areas in K11 Guangzhou.

For more than fifteen years Katharina Grosse has been considered a groundbreaking painter on the international scene. Using the spray gun as her primary painting tool, Grosse has been able to develop an unprecedented type of painting. Her work is neither representational nor symbolic, but consists in immediate engagement with matter, objects, and architecture.

As Grosse states “A painting can land anywhere: on an egg, in the crook of the arm, in the garden, along a train platform, in snow and ice, or on the beach”. With colour, she traverses the established borders between objects and architectural settings, and ultimately offers models for imagining reality in ways previously unconceived by semiotic conventions, hierarchies and social rules. Her impressive large-scale works have appeared in various locations all over the world, from major art institutions such as the Centre Pompidou in France, the Zurich Art Museum, the quotidian scenes of Rockaway Beach (commissioned by MoMA PS1), a Cologne Metro Station, the Danish coastline, or the general communities.


Mumbling Mud is curated by the Artistic Director of K11 Art Foundation Venus Lau in collaboration with Ulrich Loock. Mumbling Mud in Guangzhou is divided into three exhibition zones – Silk Studio, Stomach, and Showroom, one of which is located at ART CONNEXION and two at chi K11 art space. The exhibition leads the visitors along a labyrinthine passage


In Silk Studio at ART CONNEXION on L3, visitors encounter large curtains of silk displaying printed reproductions of Grosse’s Berlin studio walls as well as other space used to produce oversized or sculptural works. The printed surfaces introduce a situation of memory and recollection, which provides a time gap in the continuum of the exhibition.


Entering Stomach, the second exhibition zone at chi K11 art space on L4, visitors encounter a labyrinthine structure of folds formed by hundreds of meters of heavy, coarse fabric hanging from the ceiling of the art space. It launches a massive attack on the visitor’s perceptual sensitivity – denying him or her the ability to withdraw from being completely embraced by painting. The reinstalled version of Stomach at Guangzhou differs substantially from the original version exhibited in Shanghai. In Guangzhou, the folds drape slightly differently, so that parts of the painted cloth have disappeared while unpainted parts, which were previously invisible, are now exposed. This lends the work in Guangzhou a rougher and more fractious appearance than in Shanghai. If one thinks of the different versions of Stomach in terms of a cinematographic sequence, the changing folds create fluid transitions between opposites – such as the painted and the unpainted, the visible and the invisible, the sculptural and the two-dimensional, the past and the present. Grosse’s work is challenging borders that are commonly acknowledged as the most basic of perceptual distinctions through free-flowing transgression.

Showroom, the final zone of the exhibition, is a luxurious living room that has been painted over by Grosse. Amidst the exclusive design furniture, the visitor may feel reconnected to the shopping mall in which the exhibition spaces are located. The unresolved clash between the world of painting and the world of lifestyle objects poses urgent questions about the position of art in everyday life.


The title of the exhibition is inspired by the Cantonese colloquialism gwai sihk naih, which describes a mumbled way of speaking that occupies an intermediate space between intelligibility and nonsense. In the space that Grosse constructed, colour becomes the roaring visual sound waves of varied intensity. The visible and the invisible mingle with the knowable and the unknowable. The whole experience is an affective and corporeal conversation impossible to be reduced to a linear narrative. It is a mumbling that keeps being out of joint. Curator Venus Lau points out: “One is likely to experience an overwhelming ungroundedness. Rather than forming a narrative, the expansive and nebulous spectrum of Grosse’s work is more analogous to the ‘atonal world’ in the Badiouean sense—a colour field lacking any master signifier—or Lacanian ‘quilting point’—a state of unfettered will.” Ulrich Loock, who has closely worked with Grosse for many years, indicates that “Katharina Grosse opened the door of our imagination, and redirected our understanding of the world.”

Mumbling Mud will be open to the public on March 30, 2019, and run through June 2, 2019. During the exhibition, chi K11 art space will hold a series of lectures and event, which will provide the public with a different way to experience art.