The title of Cléa van der Grijn’s exhibition at the Cross Gallery in Francis street, Salto Angel, is taken from Angel Falls in Venezuela, which at 979 metres is the highest waterfall in the world, plunging down the world’s longest uninterrupted drop. Van der Grijn visited the falls the summer before last. It was, she says “a very strange, abstract journey”. First she boarded a light aircraft which brought her to the Indian Settlement of Canaima. There followed a half day canoe trip of hallucinogenic slowness – “like a slowed down film”- bringing her to the start of a climb into the Tepui, the eerily flat-topped mountain region which contains the falls.
Her paintings evoke the trip into this strange otherworldly realm. She accents the horizontality of the journey, with the dark, brooding presence of the mountains, and then the verticality of falling water. Her palette is very simple: light and dark plus blue. This follows on from her last show Mostly Blue, of saturated blue paintings, inspired by the experience of diving in Honduras. Since then she’s spent a month travelling in Cuba, and as she puts it, “that’s in my head at the moment. I don’t quite know how I am going to approach it, but it will be through the landscape in some way.”
The Cuban paintings will, she says, certainly lead her to use a new colour. “This incredible warm pink that you see everywhere”.