The foyer of Carriageworks is one of Sydney's most imposing and distinctive arts spaces: the cavernous former rail yard building shows plenty of signs of its origins, with rusted cast iron pylons and original brickwork visible on most walls.
Many artists have altered the character of the space with their installations in recent years, but none has transformed it quite like German artist Katharina Grosse. Her new work The Horse Trotted Another Couple of Metres, Then It Stopped is open in the foyer from January 6, and is free to explore.
It features more than 8,250 square metres of hanging white fabric, creating a cathedral of draping in the middle of the foyer. Grosse spent ten days spray-painting the fabric in bright and richly varied colours, which stand in sharp contrast to the grey concrete that surrounds.
"It romanticises this brutalist, very masculine space and inhabits it in the most suggestive and soft way," says veteran Melbourne art dealer Anna Schwartz. "Soft, but with very hard ideas."
The artwork is the third major summer foyer installation presented in collaboration with Schwartz and Carriageworks. Schwartz says that it defies easy categorisation, drawing in the principles and practices of painting into an installation.
Grosse's work was commissioned specifically for Carriageworks and is, in many ways, unlike anything the artist has created before. Not only is the painting impressive, but Grosse designed the unlikely canvas, which had to be sewn together, folded and draped by a team of riggers. It's the first time she's created her own canvas and worked with this volume of fabric.
When she arrived in Australia at the start of December, Grosse thought the hanging fabric was almost too beautiful to paint. She soon got to work with the help of four assistants who prepared the paint and fed the spray machine so she was able to work quickly and with an uninterrupted stream of paint. She says she developed a kind of sign language with the assistants and the painting process was mostly completed in silence.
The Horse Trotted Another Couple of Metres, Then It Stopped is at Carriageworks until April 8, and is open as part of Sydney Festival.