In an age characterised by technology and the preponderance of media related communication, the Berlin-based artist Oliver Gröne has committed himself fully to the medium of landscape painting. Thus he places at the core of his artistic interest the interplay between man and nature, associated with which are thoughts of a longing for harmony and seclusion, or alternatively the apparent luxury of a freedom of reflection that exists in painting.
In his painting style and the composition of his works, the artist repeatedly invokes important exponents of landscape painting who have also made a significant contribution to abstract art, such as the Barbizon school, especially Camille Corot and Gustave Courbet. However, Gröne carries their abstraction considerably further in that he breaks down that which he is depicting further and further and in so doing uncovers the surface structure and texture of the canvas. By means of a robust shift from warm to cold colours and from light to dark, the artist creates a unique sense of spatiality. For the observer, the notion that one is located in the middle of the picture, right inside the forest, is intensified by the depiction of partial tree trunks in the foreground, which largely obscure the section of landscape behind. Any evidence of civilisation in Oliver Gröne's paintings is mainly in the form of shadowy buildings, concrete blocks or fences. However, these serve mainly to clarify and define the spatiality of the work and stand as a symbol of the invincibility of nature as far as man is concerned.
In his first solo exhibition at the 'Halle am Wasser' Arts Centre, Gröne shows his new series 'Kosmos'. In these pictures, all of which bear the titles of works by Barnett Newman, the artist is concerned more than ever with the spatial perception in a painting and also the effect of colour and surface. By means of the large format (190 x 300 cm) and his use of primary colours, he makes reference to the founder of Colour Field Painting and in a similar manner invites the observer to be drawn into the atmosphere evoked by the painting, to absorb it and to rediscover themselves in nature as it is portrayed there. He thus also takes up the theme of the sublime in painting, particularly in landscape painting, which Newman dealt with too. In his paintings, Newman found his way to the influence of the sublime through monochrome Colour Field Painting. Oliver Gröne also uses large format and the effect of colour to convey a sense of the sublime and to succeed in evoking a contemplative, reflective reaction in the observer.
The use of impasto on the surface and the clearly visible texture of the materials transform the view of the tree trunks in the foreground into a haptic, tactile experience, through which layer after layer of the painstaking creative process becomes evident.
A series of small format paintings has also evolved in which the artist refers back to the intense contrasts between light and dark which characterise Baroque paintings. In these works, he deals primarily with the special light effect of the Dutch painter Rembrandt: a diffuse light, which seems to shine straight out of the picture, generating a wholly unique atmosphere. Gröne adopts this lighting effect and perpetuates it in an almost monochrome manifestation of abstraction, where all that is concrete disappears from view.
Oliver Gröne's pictures are captivating; their aura brings home to us the smallness of man in relation to the universe as well as our own existential helplessness and subjection.