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Lawrence Carroll


Lawrence Carroll, Grotte Painting, 2017, peinture murale et poussière sur toile sur bois, verso signé: Carroll 2017, 290 x 178 x 4 cm / 114 1/4 x 70 x 1 1/2 in
LC/M 134
24 mai - 31 août, 2019

Avant-première le vendredi, 24 mai, 2019, de 18 h à 20 h 

en l'honneur de l'artiste.


Introduction par Uwe Gellner, conservateur de la collection Kunstmuseum Magdeburg


Galerie Karsten Greve is pleased to present Moments, an exhibition of works by the American artist Lawrence Carroll, whom the gallery has represented since 1999. On display are works from the past five years, including never-before exhibited objects from the artist’s studio. Also in May of this year, he is opening his first exhibition of photographic works in the Rolla Foundation, Bruzella, Switzerland.


Lawrence Carroll characterizes himself as a painter who carries a thousand painters in himself, regarding his entire œuvre as a painting. The majority of the works, which he calls ‘paintings’, however, look like wall objects. They are painting and sculpture at the same time, their plasticity goes beyond the traditional concept of a picture. His works reveal themselves as ‘painterly construction’ in whose structure or surface the artist incorporates objects or materials and thus destroys them, before reassembling them or ‘repairing’ them, as he himself says. Using simple materials such as dust, the quest for reduction and the installation of artworks in space, Lawrence Carroll is close to the aesthetics of Arte Povera. The use of traditional technical means such as oil paint and raw materials such as wood, wax and canvas corresponds to the colourfulness of his work. On closer inspection, they reveal an infinitely subtle nuance in off-white, beige, hazy yellow, atmospheric blue-green, and black.

The Cologne exhibition bears the title Moments and seeks to make beholders aware that Lawrence Carroll understands his works and groups of works as an expression of a decisive moment, which he has tried to capture: ‘I have been interested in the impossibility of holding a moment, for a long time. I know in this search I am not alone. The simple things that interest me are almost always out of my reach. What starts out simple is revealed over time to be extraordinarily complex. An infinite labyrinth.” 

Lawrence Carroll makes it clear that he only develops his works during the work process itself: ‘Painting has these unpredictable moments and that is what they must stay for me, unpredictable. There can be routine in many ways in my life and studio but not when I paint.’ Through his poetic expression, based on human experience, he transforms the simplest materials into effective metaphors of transience.

Born in Melbourne in 1954 to Australian-Irish parents, Lawrence Carroll grew up in California. He studied at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California in the 1970s; later he moved to Los Angeles and New York. Thanks to Harald Szeemann, who invited him to the 1989 exhibition Einleuchten in the Deichtorhallen in Hamburg, Lawrence Carroll became well known in Germany at the end of the eighties. Water – a metaphor of life subject to constant change – was for the first time an integral part of his work 

I hear the ice melting, which was shown in 1992 at DOCUMENTA IX in Kassel. He participated in the 55th Venice Biennale in 2013 by being invited (along with two other artists) to design the Vatican Pavilion. Lawrence Carroll died in May 2019 in Cologne, Germany.

The artist's favourite element of water was also a source of inspiration for the works exhibited in Cologne. By drawing water with his eyes closed, the artist learned to observe movements of the water with his mind’s eye, so that his drawings are reflections of a memory landscape that relates to mental images. This abstraction method results in the Black Mirror Paintings: a black painted surface made of wax and wood was polished and scratched again with a scalpel to leave delicate but unalterable traces. The frame is seemingly broken and can no longer define the boundaries of the painting. The surfaces of the Grotte Paintings are permeated by a hazy atmosphere that changes into blue pastel colours like an unpredictable misty mood over the ocean. In the richly nuanced monochrome White Oval Paintings, Lawrence Carroll sees a hazy sky with human features that turns rain into tears. On the opaque oval surface, which is surrounded by an untreated, fragmented frame, clouds are constantly shedding tears in a frozen waterfall. The perception remains shadowy, the work is transitory, a metaphor of transience.

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