Clea van der Grijn’s Salto Angel, at the Cross Gallery, consists of a series of paintings inspired by a visit to the Angel Falls of the title. a remote waterfall in Venezuela that happens to be the highest in the world. The pictures, with thickened, grafted on textures and a pared down palette dominated by blue, are a considered distillation of the experience.
What struck van der Grijn was the long, increasingly slow approach journey which, together with the sheer strangeness of the place, made the whole thing disorientating and hypnotic.
After a flight in a light aircraft, a sluggish canoe trip led to the final mountain trek. The paintings, mostly horizontal in format, concentrate on the dark horizontal ridge of the flat topped mountains below, the band of sky above and the heavy, inexorable fall of water.
The effect is to hustle us along, to keep us moving towards a climatic encounter with the falls themselves. Van der Grijn is up to the occasion, and the final piece, on the end wall of the gallery’s sequence of rooms, is a convincingly muscular evocation of this awesome elemental place. The show excels as a concentrated, prototypical inward account of this – and indeed any – outward journey.