Clea van der Grijn

Wednesday November 29, 2000
Visual Art / Aidan Dunne.

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.


Review of Salto Angel,
Clea van der Grijn,
November/December 2000

Again with an emphasis on a domestic rather than 'white space' setting, Cross Gallery has been open in Francis Street for just over a year. Interestingly, Clea van der Grijn's Salto Angel was an exhibition that would have worked equally well ( and possibly better in the case of some of the images ) in a sparer space. Based on a trip to Salto Angel, or Angel Falls in Venezula, Van der Grijn has created paintings which capture the dramatic meeting of the powerful water with earth and air. In the front part of the gallery, framed works on paper drew out in dark blues the patterns of rushing against rock. Three small triptychs called to mind through their colours and the mysterious movements of water through darkness. In the central area, long panoramic paintings showed vista of the interplay of shape and shade which drew you on to the drama of the back room. And it was here that one might have wished for a wider brighter space to adequately frame the drama of these images. Equally a development from, and a contrast to van der Grijn previous series of paintings, the calm, mediative underwater blues of deep-water diving, these large canvases were a rush of movement and hue. Alive with kinetic energy and contrast, blue sky merged into blue water as a series progressed, churned white as it dashed down against the changing patterns of black rocks. Van der Grijn manages to simultaneously capture the calm stilness of such a remote place and express the pure energy of the ever rushing water.