This Gerhard Richter show at the Tate Modern is pretty epic. It is a review of the artist's work to date, which is expansive in content as much as it is in artistic style - Richter is a rare breed that seems to span genres, (to an extent), and maintain his masterly touch.
When I think of Richter, I think photo-realist images. There are some, (perhaps not enough in my eyes), of them on show here which serve to remind what a truly sensational painter he is. Then walking in to another room he is able to break down his painting to such abstraction, you wonder if he's suddenly lost all of that ability.
The artist, Gerhard Richter.
Richter's willingness to span artistic genres seems to come from a need to raise questions about his medium and also to respond to other prolific artists that inspire him. For example he painted, 'Ema (Nude on a staircase)' 1966, in response to Duchamp's famous, 'Nude Descending a staircase No.2', 1912.
Ema (Nude on a staircase), 1966
But it is not that Richter does not know who he, or his art is. He established very knowing styles - the blur affect created by dragging a dry brush over still wet oil paintings, for example. It gives an ethereal quality to his subject, reminding us that the image, that moment in time, is transient.
His, (often huge), abstract paintings are made of strong colour and thick paint, dragged by a squeegee back and forth, back & forth. At times they end up an almost Monet-esque density of colour, where there is no real subject but perhaps hundreds of answers as to what we see.
Abstraktes Bild, (from a series of that name).
Richter is still alive and practising his art today - it is very rare that a living artist receives a retrospective. It is testament to his ability to embrace the changing face & styles of art, his ability to be almost chameleon-like in his approach. This show is a brilliant survey of his work, but reminded me that I love him as a non-abstract painter above all else. His control of the paint brush is phenomenal, so when he deliberately decides to lose control, personally, I feel a little bit disappointed.
St. Paul's panorama - my own Richter, captured in a photograph from the Tate Members balcony.
Superb. A must see exhibition