Clare Grill, “Vein” (2020), oil on linen, 24 x 23 inches
The poet and art critic John Ashbery wrote, in relation to painting, “most good things are tentative, or should be if they aren’t.” I think of this idea when I experience Clare Grill’s abstract paintings. I live with a 12 by 10-inch painting by Grill in my bedroom: “Horseshoe,” 2016. The colors range from deep pink to burgundy, and the forms, as the title suggests, all take off from a horseshoe shape, stretching into arcs and crescent moons across the surface, pulled by gravity into uneasy ovals. It is punctuated by a thin, pinkish border around some of the edge, suggesting a slightly asymmetrical wall hanging. A tactile range is packed into the small piece: it suggests red velvet, but it is also viscous, scratched into, and translucent. The marks are both considered and very aware.
I walk by the painting every day as I open my window shades in the morning. There’s something about the painting that reflects and echoes these small moves, these repetitions, that comprise daily rituals, domestic life, intimacy. When I first met Grill, her studio was in her home. I have a memory of a studio visit in which we spent time talking about painting in her kitchen.