Aspiring to be Angel
‘Aspiring to be Angel’ is an exhibition of paintings by Hong Kong based artist Catherine Grossrieder (b. 1984, Bangkok). The artists mixed heritage and rich travel history has imbued the paintings in this show with an opulent cultural diversity. The works are mature in their social understanding, supported by the artists painterly skill and dexterity. Her comfort with the medium is clear, and her narrative talents make for an articulate yet surreal tale of adolescence. Whilst the artists foremost focus is fine art, she also creates graffiti art under her alias ‘Cath Love.’ This more graphic and lyrical style of working informs her more traditional acrylic paintings on canvas, and vice versa. Grossrieder’s subject characters are devised from the subcultures that she was a part of in Hong Kong. She celebrates her teenage self: the first girl to tag and paint graffiti with her “skater friends on the streets of Hong Kong.”
Comic artists including Jamie Hewlett and Robert Crumb were early inspirations for Grossrieder. Exposure to comics and cartoons of different cultures on her travels deepened her visual comprehension and shaped the direction that she has followed as a contemporary artist. Clear is her respect for surrealist greats including Salvador Dali, and Niki de Saint Phalle. Demonstrated by the chicken motif that has seeped into her creative consciousness, Grossrieder enjoys picking up on the nuance of her surroundings and the satire that exists in the everyday. The painter pays homage to life’s many tones in her artworks.
Catherine Grossrieders’ more recent artworks are refined and feel intentional. In previous years they have been more crowded and chaotic. The aim of these busier paintings was to overwhelm. Grossrieder hoped that the audiences’ visual senses would be over stimulated, and an excitement or delight in finding little surprises within each piece would prevail. ‘Aspiring to be Angel’ homes in on the individual and tells more intimately of the life illustrated.
The focus of this exhibition, ‘Aspiring to be Angel’ with Four You Gallery, are Catherine Grossrieder’s surreal and comedic paintings. ‘Angel’ is the subject of many of her narrative paintings, she is the artists cartoon muse. The main subject of Grossrieders’ secondary creative practice is ‘Jeliboo;’ this character features in the artists more graphic works including her graffiti murals and drawings.
Grossrieder’s artworks, whilst strange and dreamlike, are descriptive in their storytelling. This series of works follow ‘Angel’ from her teen years into early womanhood, and in some cases allude to events that have occurred in Grossrieders’ life making the paintings relatively autobiographical. Each work depicts a moment, all
of which are somewhat familiar. The consequential relatability of these life instances makes Angel more endearingly mortal. Her chicken-like features fall out of one’s consciousness as we watch the character hope and struggle in humanhood.