Press Releases

Date of Release: 
Tuesday, April 24, 2018
Contact Info: 

Erika Monroe-Kane, Director of Communications
608.257.0158 x 237 or


Exhibition Resulted from MMoCA Residency in 2017
May 5-August 5, 2018

MMoCA Opening: May 4 • 5-8 pm (during Gallery Night) 


The Madison Museum of Contemporary Art (MMoCA) is pleased to present a solo exhibition of work by Spanish artist Irene Grau. Grau is a conceptual artist who searches her surrounding environment for moments when the power of color alters how we see and engage with the world. For her exhibition at MMoCA, Grau created a new body of work based on Madison’s notorious summer construction season. In a series of photographs, painted objects, and laser-cut metal sculptures, she reinterprets our city’s seasonally deconstructed landscape as a space of aesthetic potential

Accustomed to the preserved historic sites of her hometown of Santiago de Compostela, Grau was struck by the ostensibly relentless demolition of Madison’s streets and sidewalks, and by the accompanying job-site markings splattered across the pavement. Made by utility workers in preparation for construction projects, these colorful spray-painted markings indicate underground locations of the cables, pipes, and wires that comprise our city’s otherwise invisible subterranean infrastructure. For most people, the cryptic scribblings are simply an accepted blemish of urban life. In Grau’s eyes, however, they are minimalist abstract paintings.  In construction season, her aptly titled exhibition, she transforms this utilitarian system of painting into dynamic and conceptually inventive works of art.

After diligently hand-tracing countless instances of utility graffiti, the artist created over 250 metal sculptures shaped and painted the very same Day-Glo colors as the original street markings. Much like the painted marks on the concrete constantly change throughout the summer (washed away by rain or eroded by traffic), Grau cleverly designed her sculptural installation to shift and evolve over the course of her exhibition. Eschewing traditional museum protocol, she invites visitors to pick up the painted objects and use them in imaginative ways—from recreating the spray-painted notations seen in the streets, to arranging them colorful forms into expressive compositions on the gallery floor.

In addition to calling attention to the overlooked details within our everyday lives, Grau also humorously references the history of painting. Like painters before her who worked en plein air, Grau similarly began this project on foot, traversing Madison for worthy compositions. Rather than creating paintings of landscape, she identified existing instances of paintings within the landscape. Her resulting exhibition offers each of us an opportunity to think about and physically engage with the most basic principles of artistic creation: line, color, and form. 

Irene Grau earned her MFA and BFA at the Polytechnic University of Valencia, Spain, and at the Accademia di Belle Arti di Palermo in Sicily, Italy. She was the 2010 recipient of a Scholarship for Academic Excellence, and the 2011 recipient of a Ministry of Education FPU Scholarship for PhD Studies, and received her PhD in 2016. Grau has shown her work internationally in solo exhibitions and group shows, most recently in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, Brazil; Madrid, Barcelona, Bilbao, and Valencia, Spain; and at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Her work can be found in numerous private collections in Europe, Asia, and the Unites States. She is represented by Maus Contemporary Gallery (Birmingham, AL).

Generous funding for Irene Grau: construction season has been provided by the David and Paula Kraemer Fund; the Elizabeth Firestone Graham Foundation; Darcy Kind and Marc Vitale; Dan and Natalie Erdman; Katie Howarth Ryan; Oak Bank; a grant from the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin and the National Endowment for the Arts; and MMoCA Volunteers.



Housed in a soaring, Cesar Pelli-designed building, the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art provides free exhibitions and education programs that engage people in modern and contemporary art. The museum’s four galleries offer changing exhibitions that feature established and emerging artists. The Rooftop Sculpture Garden provides an urban oasis with an incredible view. The museum is open: Tuesday through Thursday, noon–5 pm; Friday, noon–8 pm; Saturday, 10 am–8 pm; Sunday, noon–5 pm; and is closed on Mondays.


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