Artsy: Did you conceive of all three of these installations in relation to one another?
KG: They developed alongside one another but I also started to be able to draw experiences from Düsseldorf into Venice and from Venice into Moscow, even though the pieces themselves were already in the process of being made. I changed my model-building process. Normally, I work with a 1:50 or 1:20 scale model but now I also built a 1:10 model for each of them so I could see in far more detail what the fabric would do in the space on a conceptual level rather than just a technical level. I started on the Düsseldorf installation two years ago, before I even knew I would do Venice. The special thing there is that I have two really big spaces, 800 square meters each. In one I decided to show eight large canvases and in the other I decided to do one installation with the fabric, the rubble, and so on. In Venice, since the Arsenale is a listed building, I couldn’t spray directly on it, so I decided to let the columns poke through, to perforate the painting and be present in the work.
Artsy: Were these the first shows where you started to bring in organic elements like trees into the installations?
KG: I started using the trees for a very small show at the birthplace of Kurt Tucholsky, a German poet, which is very close to my studio. They asked me to do something there and at the same time a tree got cut down in front of my house. An uprooted tree is such an iconic, emotional image that everyone has a relationship with. Whether you want it to or not, seeing these roots touches you in a very profound way. And it’s also very ambiguous because it’s painted: the roots could be a paintbrush or it could be resonating with painted sculptures from medieval times. Painting it, changing its appearance, is so against postwar sculpture where real material is supposed to speak about its own story, the industrial process of its production, and maybe its resonance with political circumstances. But I’m not a sculptor. I’m a painter who wants to work with ambiguity and the idea that things can change based on whatever viewpoint you might choose.