Gerhard Richter: About Painting

Exhibition, S.M.A.K., Ghent, Belgium.


From October 21, 2017 until February 18, 2018
Gerhard Richter is often called the renewer of post-war painting. Richter has analysed the traditional painting genres (still life, portrait, landscape), the visual idiom of modern painting (e.g. monochromy, abstraction, grids etc.) and the challenges for the medium in our digital culture. He has broadened the concept of painting in dialogue with other disciplines such as photography and sculpture. The exhibition, coinciding with the artist’s 85th birthday, follows a distinct choice of motifs from the artist’s early work, where the analysis of the possibilities of visual representation and perception that were to remain a constant in his oeuvre was already tangible.
This arrangement is echoed and carried forward in the presentation of the artist’s work from the last 14 years and eight never previously shown works from 2017, which are reflected in the glass piece 7 Panes (House of Cards) from 2013. In this way, fundamental aspects of Richter’s early works are linked to his present artistic practice. The rooms are in chronological order, whereby it becomes clear that each new work is a new visual solution that emerges from an existing work. The exhibition highlights the way the artist reacted to developments in society in the 60s and 70s and the way he responds through his work to the world as it is now.
Gerhard Richter was born in Dresden in 1932 and in 1961, when he had completed his studies in East Germany, he moved to West Germany. He was one of a loosely linked group of painters in Düsseldorf to which Konrad Lueg and Sigmar Polke also belonged. They painted figuratively at a time when American Pop Art was emerging. Richter represented Germany at the 36th Venice Biennale and in 1972 had retrospective exhibitions in numerous leading museums around the world. In 1999 he installed his Black Red Gold in the foyer of the Reichstag in Berlin. The stained glass window he designed for Cologne cathedral was completed in 2007. His last exhibition of paintings in Belgium dates from 1976, when a touring display was shown at the Centre for Fine Arts in Brussels. In 2008 there was a small display of his editions, entitled Panorama, at Strombeek cultural centre. Gerhard Richter lives and works in Cologne.