September 30, 2008

Richter's automaton paintings

Gerhard Richter's new project, "4900 Colours," comprises 196 square panels of 25 coloured squares that can be reconfigured in a number of variations, from one large-scale piece to multiple, smaller paintings. Richter has developed a new configuration of the panels especially for this exhibition, formed of 49 paintings of 100 squares.

"In The Telegraph, Alastair Sooke reports that "4900 Colours: Version II" may present an austere approach to picture-making, but the results are lively nonetheless. "A computer program arbitrarily selected the color of each square; the arrangement of panels was then decided on the throw of a dice. This means that the distribution of colors is entirely random, privileging chance and abstraction at the expense of figuration or painterly touch. By any standards, this is a disciplined, cerebral, even austere approach to picture-making. But the joy of the series is how amazingly alive and energetic each painting feels. Spend time staring at any one of them, and you quickly notice that the blocks of colour appear to be constantly rearranging themselves, like a giant Rubik's cube in perpetual motion. They have a visual hum and thrum, like a brightly coloured version of TV static. And even though we know that every hint of figuration has been eradicated, our eyes still comb the multicoloured tesserae searching for shapes and pattern."

At Bloomberg, Martin Gayford writes that it's a bit like seeing a whole display made up of nothing but Damien Hirst's dot paintings: instantly attractive and numbingly repetitive. Eventually, you work out that the point is as much conceptual as visual."

"Gerhard Richter: 4900 Colours, Version II," Serpentine Gallery, London, UK. Through Nov. 16.

1 comments:

That Martin Gayford, what a deep thinker.