Gerhard Richter Exhibition~to look and see~

Gerhard Richter--the last master of 20th century modern art.

"Every produce after Duchamp is a ready-made. Even if I produce one...."
Accepting the concussion of modern art revolution, it is a desperate act to produce something as a modern art--yet it is also a bold and courageous act, too.

If a tableau--a painting, and modern art is the intention to exteriorize that "something," what is that "something" to be concretized after going through this "20th century" ? A fear and prevision of the mental block foreseen beyond the determination impossibility. The desperate step toward the place for settlement. And the landscape of absolute zero that 20th century has recurred to--nevertheless, it is the aloneness and a little hope to return the frozen landscape to the primordial ocean, filled with the memories waiting for awakening and the willingness for saltation.

"Painting is dead, by Duchamp---" A nostalgia toward the past, the consciousness of this moment, the willingness for the future vaulting--a quiet realization of himself, and for himself. Following the flowability and fluctuation of the passing time, he filters out and sublimate the conscious memories from within himself and beyond. The conduct as the process of awakening from an unconsciousness and leaping torward recognition as he wanders within the swirl of perception--it reveals his self as a floating and oscillating media to accept a consequence and a coincidence of undecidable matters. He is a mirror to reflect those matters, and at the same time he is a transparent glass to let them go through.

"I don't have anything to say, so I tell about it." Richter quote the words of John Cage, to be asked his theme in his work.

--All tableau is an abstraction--that proposition and its understanding allows to elevate a "perception" to the conduct of "seeing" that leads to the gate of realization. Abstraction itself is the action and process of sensation, recognition, affectivity and memorizing, and an "art" as its product enables the audience to reproduce that creation process of both the artist and the audience. This put those who tries to see onto that landscape of memories and the heightened sensation, beyond the confinement of a knowledge--and what is there is the honest and true conversation with the spirit of the creator, and the wide spread of the past seen through from his mind.
Various attempts of 20th century modern art--catabolization, transformation, scorning, forfeit of an authority, education, reformation, and so on---what Richter creates have a refreshing faithfulness after the storm of modern art revolution. A mirror and a glass. Reflection and transparency. Transparency and opacity---those are the methods and techniques, but at the same time they are the keys to reach for the "something" represented within the art products, and a media that absorbs the mind of the audience.

<拡大可><ルディ叔父さん>1965. Oil on canvas<click to enlarge><Onkel Rudi>1965. Oil on canvas
Wearing a Nazi uniform, it is the last photo of uncle Rudi who died after two weeks of enrollment. Framing his existence within that background story for memorizing--represents nothing but irrelevance and uninterest between the "image" of uncle and the actual uncle. The existence of the uncle represented only through those framed memories and a photograph image---that is the accusation against the fiction of narrative presented strongly by Pop art. Is the photographed image really representing that "existence" ?
If a memory has a meaning when the reminded memory of seeing an image (here it is a photograph) connects the past and this moment, the conduct of seeing is not frozen to a specific moment.
Richter copies and reproduces an image by "painting it" in different media. The edges of the subject is smudged, the image is blurred, and the subject is reinterpreted and represented--to escape from the trap of a narrative, to ask the meaning of seeing, to ask the disparity of perception and recognition.
That is how Richter as a German identity dealt with the meaning of Nazism.

<Grauschlieren>1968. Oil on canvas
Richter tried to represents the fluidity of a sensation and a memory scattered in time by the defamiliarization of a photographic image. The next step was to free the abstract painting and minimal art, fixed at a specific, frozen moment of "completion" and "perfection." The concept of contingency--the opposite aspect of minimal art--the process of is visualized to deny "defining."
Here, the archetype painting by Frank Stella is reproduced in oil painting, and that negative of gray background and the positive of white lines are smudged and mixed by brush strokes--now the positive and negative lost its clear distinction, and the straight lines are cut, deformed and blurred. That transforms not only the flicker in visual perception, but also the relationship of relative dependency between negative and positive. The process of defamiliarization=the action of brush strokes, becomes the key to reinterpret the piece of work and experience it by "seeing."

<4096 farben(colors)>1974. Oil on canvas
What is perception, and what does it bring to us?
In the history of western art, a tableau/ painting started to imitate the visible matters around us--in other words, some thing which has a name--meaning that the thing is recognizable or categorized as an object. Some ideas or concepts were translated into recognizable objects or visual expressions to be exteriorized--for example, the invention of perspective enabled to visualize the concept of a space, and the method of impressionism, which described its products as the result of narrowing perception and its interpretation, sophisticated perception as a tool of expression, and modern art, which allowed to cross inter disciplinary by deconstructing and reinterpreting those established politics and cultures.

Magritte "described" a question as a question, representing a sentence "Cesi n'est pas une pipe" with a drawing of a pipe, and a drawing of a drawing of a pipe. This is a drawing to ask what a drawing is, or a sentence made up of words, or is the sentence a language, or it is a drawing collecting lines in a line....?
Today after we have seen the art of 20th century--recognizing a tablature in a way like, "this is a scenery painting" or "This is OO's painting" or "this is categorizable as impressionism"--can no longer fulfill the meaning of "seeing" something. One method of conceptualizing and theorizing colors is digitizing (4096 color is described as 16 gradation of three essential colors of R, G, B) that eliminates the ambiguity of our perceptibility--in that sense, what is the difference between our "analogue" sensation and the conceptualized idea of colors, and what does that difference bring out in terms of our recognition?

"4096 farben" raises a fundamental question of what a color and color scheme is, recognized either by our physical perception or our knowledge and understanding of conceptualized colors. Then, a single color within a color scheme/ color palette is defined by contrasting with others, and "4096 faben" represents his attempt to reinterpret and represent his own color scheme. The short circuited meaning of "understanding" is reconsidered by conducting this painting as a tool to understand.

<Fels>1989. Oil on canvas
The process and method of this painting represents that the act of is to heighten the keenness of sensation, and to consciously concentrate on that constant sensation, and to keep under the consciousness as an experience and a memory. The composition of the essential colors painted as foundation layer, and a white color overlaid on top--the white is often mixed with the lower layer that represents the shimmering of the surface and the fluctuation of the painting surface. Then, palette knife inscribes and chisel into those layers to engrave the very moment of that action and action itself, as if the knife reveals the accumulation of time and memory out from the hidden layers. Those actions are highlighted again with those repeated deep blue brush strokes, or they are re-realized and re-formed intentions for defamiliarization.
The title "Fels" (Stone mountain wall) suggests the articulation of "seeing" and "experiencing" the natural stone wall and "interpreting" and "realized" image inside of his mind through the process of painting. This painting seems to simulate the actual process of decaying the natural stone wall worn by weather in a long period of time. The palette knife engraving sounds like the sever nature of wind and rain that curves and deepens the contrast of stone surface.
This reminds me of Chinese ink-painting of mountains, and paint-ing was the way of living in nature for those Chinese artists, by abstracting and idealizing the image of nature within their mind.

<Wald (3)>1990. Oil on canvas
Those underneath layer with varieties of colors seems to be eclipsed by the dark and deep blue--then a new bright color paint on a brush is stroked over the blue. The intention of an artist and the flowing of the time appeared in the consistency of the paint and the brush stroke--the depth of consciousness and subconsciousness behind the height of sensation and recognition seems to reach directly to the concept of life, and death.

<Abstraktes Bild, 1999>1999. Oil on canvas
A bold and keen intention confined within the brush strokes. The streak of mind, coming from the layers of memories.

<Abstraktes Bild,1997>1997. Oil on canvas
The denial of insistence, and defining. In this piece, variation of colors is almost lost but left by layered white with slow brush strokes--thus the painting allows the audience to experience the color variations and the act of blurring. It is not separate issue from the interest of Richter, who was interested in a "gray"---it embodies the neutrality and undecidability by staying in-between a black and a white color. Even with the left over colors on the canvas, this piece represents the act of "gray-ing."
What he told about ---"without insistence, the denial of expressing, a silence, an ideal coloring for desperation" At the same time, "gray" is "something complete without further swaying, and an attempt to produce something wholesome, which is complete by itself, obvious, and an impeccable matter--by "gray-ing" and a gray piece, it is possible to approach to that point"
(click and enlarge)left:<5 Stehende Scheiben (5 standing glass sheets)>2002. Right:<11 Scheiben (11 glass sheets)>(They looked different from those photos)
<11 Scheiben> was located at the white wall of a large gallery space. With the wooden holder, those glass sheets were equally placed as it they are peeled off from the wall surface into the gallery void space. The transparency and reflectivity is repetitive on the surface of the glass sheets, so the image reflected on those glass surfaces are blurred and their edges are made ambiguous within the repeated reflection--the image dissipate into those layers. The audience, and even the other works of Richter in the same room, are transformed in the reflection and its repetition.

<5 Stehende Scheiben>is located in a small room with a large opening with a seamless window, which is facing to a exterior space. There is a large tree outside of the window, and its branches and leaves are dissipated within the repetition of reflection and transparency. Near the window, a TV monitor is located to play a video interview with Richter.
As I walked across the room, I noticed with something and stopped passing. Even the video image was reflecting on the glass sheets, so the image is repeated, weakened, and dissipated into the perspective space exaggerated by those glass sheets. His face and voice documented as a video image, and it was duplicated to make videos and shown to a general audience. The video image repeatedly played through video monitors from the record, and the image is reinterpreted and transformed by his own piece of work to become "repetition," and a "virtual" image of the virtual recorded information. Within the relationship between his piece of work and the art gallery space to present his work, it is possible to see his attempt to make us realize the meaning of "seeing," and how difficult it is to do so. There are countless repetitions and a constant patience to wait for the moment of conversation in a short, delicate, ephemeral moment.

A memorable day in my life.



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