Excerpt from 'Rainer Gross: Logo Paintings' by Peter Lodermeyer
For more than 20 years, the artist, born in Cologne (Germany) and living in New York since 1972--in Manhattan, to be precise--has been known on both sides of the Atlantic through numerous exhibitions as an abstract painter. With the invention of Contact Painting, "a casting technique he developed from traditional monotype and transferred to painting, he created for himself a flexible tool with which he was able to experiment in different directions over many years, a method that enabled him to bring chance and control in varying proportions into the process of painting. Thus Rainer Gross was able to add a process-oriented variant to abstract painting, over and above monochrome, color painting, and radical painting.
Gross's work is automatic but not accidental. He creates two surfaces of equal size. On side is built up with dry pigment mixed with water, layer upon layer. This is left to dry completely. The other side is built up with layers of oil paint to the thickness of cakes icing. generally, both begin with the same base color but the artist does not necessarily remember what colors lie underneath the top-most surface. Gross then presses the two sides together, face to face, applying pressure only with his hands. The two surfaces permeate one another, the oil seeps into the dried, water-based pigment, literally impregnating it with its stain. After the two surfaces have sufficiently commingled, they are pulled apart, producing two related, but distinct images. The drying process can take as long as ten weeks. Though he exerts control of the color and subtly manipulates the form, the final work is the unpredictable result of the random pull. He does not work the images or images afterward. This, he says, "would be antithetical to the procedure, akin to messing with nature."
Pulling the paintings apart is an aggressive action. The formerly independent surfaces have merged into one but are then drawn apart. Gross says of the technique, "there is a violent aspect of the peeling apart -- it is the birthing process of the piece and is part of the nature of the work." Destruction of on gives rise to another -- the synergetic coming together of the two creates somethings related, yet wholly new. They are "fresh and new but at the same time layered and reminiscent of both the former images." The essential randomness of his images is reflected in the randomness of their title which are selected blindly from the New York City phone book.