‘My work is all autobiographical” says Clea van der Grijn in a handwritten sheet accompanying her current show. “It is not abstract or conceptual” she adds. Despite these helpful guidelines, there are elements of van der Grijn‘s large installation, which includes paintings and a found object (a crucifix) that are both abstract and conceptual. van der Grijn‘s message, then, serves mainly to point out the “softness” of such terminology, particularly with respect to the artist’s own work.
The present installation is made up of a series of wall-mounted 12 inch square boxes, a large crucifix swathed in bandages, and some more canvases, stacked coyly on the floor. The wall-mounted boxes are arranged in a grid along most of the length of one of the gallery walls. The majority of these shallow boxes are in white, but significantly gold, green and black show up in a certain number. Boxes featuring these darker colours are arranged to form a cross, lying on its side, bordered by white boxes.
Occasionally, these boxes bear texts – scraps of first person written narratives, or numbers – written on or scraped into the surface. Sometimes the plain board of the box is overlaid with white gauze, giving a flat, floury finish, contrasting forcefully with the thick, glutinous pigment that is doused over some others.
The use of “I” in the texts and the artist’s profession of autobiography, lead the viewer to link colours with life events, quickly noticing that as colour alters over space, time seems to be punctuated by shifts in mood. White turns to black and the alteration is reinforced by a progression from uneasy tranquillity to the flux of associations, it is clear that, in terms of painting, passages of darkness have literally given shape to the artist’s work.