UAB’s AEIVA presents “Irene Grau: Incohérent Walk” Jan. 7-March 16

This exhibition documents the artist as she walked through the green spaces of Santiago de Compostela dressed in green clothes carrying a green painting.

Irene Grau, Incoherent WalkIrene Grau (b. 1986), "Incohérent Walk," 2018. Image courtesy of the artist and Maus Contemporary.A performance by artist Irene Grau is documented in the exhibition “Irene Grau: Incohérent Walk,” at the University of Alabama at Birmingham

Presented by the College of Arts and Sciences Abroms-Engel Institute for the Visual Arts, the exhibition will be on view from Jan. 7 through March 16. An artist lecture with Grau will be at 5 p.m. Friday, Jan. 11, followed by a free opening reception from 6-8 p.m. at AEIVA. 

During this performance, the artist, based in Valencia, Spain, walked through the green spaces of Santiago de Compostela dressed in green clothes carrying a green painting. Grau’s AEIVA exhibition is a conceptual “retelling” of her performance, and utilizes audio, text, paint, fabric and photography to discuss contemporary issues regarding traditional landscape painting. 

Vincent van Gogh, among other plein air artists — those who painted landscapes while outdoors — pioneered a pictorial nomadism of the landscape they sought to capture. Later Impressionist artists moved beyond this nomadism, dissolving the horizon and blurring the landscape, eliminating the contrasts of light and shadow that defined the form. Grau’s work similarly reconceives landscape through the possibilities and experimentation presented by monochrome painting, the use of only one color. 

One of the earliest examples of monochrome painting was developed by a group of witty artists called Les Incohérents in Paris during the late 19th century. The monochrome was born as a conceptual joke, precisely to belittle the work, in the form of graphic criticism. These artists used monochrome painting to create an ambivalent relationship between language and landscape, a conceptualization that influences Grau’s work, says AEIVA curator John Fields. 

Grau’s works seek to re-evaluate, once again, the landscape genre, exploring the idea of displacement, a core concept in her artistic practice.  

“‘Incohérent Walk’ transforms our thinking and speaks of painting and landscape as a way of seeing,” Fields said.