Thursday, 27 October 2011

Gerhard Richter

Tuesday this week I was lucky enough to enjoy a day packed full of culture, food, friends and opportunities. Not to go into too much detail, but it was a rather good day! One of the highlights of which was visiting the Gerhard Richter exhibition at Tate Modern, if you get a chance I urge you to take a visit.

Richter has produced such an incredible body of work, that is impressive not only in scale but in diversity. I was amazed to be able wonder around the exhibition going form room to room finding completely different styles all crafted by the same man. I am truly in awe of how Richter works between the abstract and the life like, mastering both so uniquely.

                                   Horst with Dog (1965)                                  Betty (1988)

The exhibition is a chronological journey through Richter's art, beginning with paintings done from photographs, that he made his own by his trademark 'blur' - achieved by dragging a dry paint brush across the wet paint, softening the edges and mixing colours into each other. This technique really transformed the images from their plain photographs into something more. There is a universality to Richter's work, by taking subjects that are personal to him and distorting the images either with the blur effect (as shown above) or by using large thick gloops of oil paint (as shown below), the clarity of identity is muddied and as we look upon his images from a distance, we feel that we can relate to the subjects.

Townscape Paris (1968) above, was a painting that particularly interested me, not because of it's beauty, but by how Richter created it so that from a distance one could make out the bombed city landscape; but as the audience drew closer that image disintegrated, dissolving into chaotic globs of paint. This could be very reflective of the peoples experience of war, and how that from a distance there still seemed to be an etching of civilisations but as soon as you get closer to the situation you realise the chaos and destruction, there seeming to be no reasoning behind anything when close up.

                Forest (3) (1990)                                                                  Detail (Kreutz) (1971)

Although on occasion I can be found to scoff at certain abstract pieces, I found Richter's to be simply enchanting. The explanation of this may be found in the exhibition dialogue, I felt as though I was being given a guided tour of Richter's self development. I read about friendships with other artists, challenges he took on through the discovery of new artists work, political interests, popular culture, all which affected his work making the abstract appear less abstract and more bound to life experience.

Work that is most famous of his are his squeegee pieces, that are quite outstanding, but that is often due to their scale. Others of his abstract collections include paintings he did of photographs of small brushstrokes that he blew up to enormous sizes. The painterly marks, divorced from their original context and scale, start to lose their abstractness, and begin to look like something real, begin to taken on landscapes. This is most intriguing, as for a while you try to decipher where the image have been taken from and soon you come to the realisation that they are images of paint.

14 Nov .99 (1999)

I would love to go on and on about this exhibition as I found it to be a really wonderful treat, but I shan't ruin it for you, just promise me you'll at least try and go visit it! I'm going again this Friday, that's how much I enjoyed it!

Self Portrait (1996)

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