“Life is a craft that you have to learn, but also an art. You must dare to create room for chance and intuition.”
The evocative canvases of Dutch painter Arty Grimm skate close to representation but never quite leave the abstract realm. Like the work of cubists and abstract expressionists who were inspired by prehistoric and ancient art (Picasso, Miro, and Twombly, among others), her paintings seem to reach deep into cultural time, unearthing forms from the collective human consciousness—monoliths, totems, and organic figures suggesting fruits or flowers. Grimm has frequently spoken of art as a method for making beauty out of chaos, a “sieve” that chaos, or randomness, can fall through and end up transformed. Her definition of beauty, however, as shown in her paintings, is not frozen perfection, but rather an embrace of chaos itself—a way to contain the unknown while preserving its wildness.
Helen Frankenthaler, whose amoebic images Grimm’s sometimes resemble, believed that “a really good picture looks as if it's happened at once…one really beautiful wrist motion that is synchronized with your head and heart, and you have it.” Grimm would no doubt agree. Her paintings are born in moments of inspiration, the result of often unconventional tools (a tree branch as a brush, for instance) and an almost dance-like private performance of gestural painting. Her recent works contain shapes resembling blocks of stone—hulking yet somehow graceful, they seem to conceal a mystery. And in a sense, they do: the mystery of their making.
Grimm was born in Rotterdam in 1950 and lives and works in Amsterdam. She studied at the Academy of Art in Jakarta, Indonesia, and has exhibited her work throughout the Netherlands as well as in Spain, Germany, Slovakia, Belgium, Argentina, and the U.S., including at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Ibiza, Spain; the Jan van der Togt Museum in
Amstelveen, the Netherlands; and the Danubiana Meulensteen Art Museum in Bratislava, Slovakia.