The Fence, like many of Groobey’s paintings, adopts an earthy palette, using organic blues and greens to make her artificial bodies seem more natural. The play between landscape, figuration, and abstraction is important to Groobey’s work. In The Fence the recognisable elements of the painting become almost illusions of the viewer’s imagination. The figure is a mere suggestion of spontaneous marks, a subliminal apparition within a ground of rich colours and textured brushwork. How viewers respond to this painting echoes Groobey’s process: her lush surface provides ‘clues’ or ‘raw information’ for the viewer to assemble and embellish.
Kate Groobey’s figures are often pictured as if dancing or exercising. Their strangely contorted bodies suggest movement and an exaggerated flexibility. If their poses seem impossible, it’s because they are: these bodies have been reconfigured several times. Groobey begins each figure as a line drawing, made from life studies, drawn from magazines or sometimes from her own imagination. These drawings are developed as watercolour paintings, which Groobey cuts up, reassembles, and repaints. This process is repeated until Groobey is satisfied with the image. The small study is then translated as a large-scale oil painting to create the finished work. In works such as The Cutting Mat the green background and grid reference the cutting board in her studio.
Groobey’s approach to painting is quite physical and takes on a performative element. Because of their scale, her large paintings are made with the canvas positioned on the floor; Groobey has to literally traverse the canvas as she creates the image. While physically manoeuvring herself in relation to the painted figure, her body replicates the complicated stretching and bending of her subjects. Groobey captures this sense of movement in Horse: her expressive gestures convey a sense of vibrant energy and exertion and in some areas recreate the effect of blurred motion.
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