‘They Can Feel Almost Like Exquisite Texts to Be Read’

Richter’s “Abstraktes Bild (Abstract Painting),” from 2016. Credit… via Gerhard Richter and David Zwirner.

… Each [painting] presents so much information that you have to move in close for further contemplation and deciphering, trying to figure out how the paintings were made and which of their weird little details are accidental, which deliberate. They can feel almost like exquisite texts to be read [my bolding]. But instead of words, you follow painterly events of different sizes; one color gives way to another; smooth passages blur adjacent colors and then break apart into patchy areas that resemble reptile skin or tiny islands that expose multiple layers of color. Sometimes the blue layer with which Richter usually starts a work is visible, or it may be scraped far down to reveal nearly bare canvas.

“Painterly events”! I found exhilarating the spectacle of a prominent art critic delving into the grit of paintings to probe their “information.” It reassures me that, analogously, my reflex to decipher verse at a grammar level in pursuit of its “poetry” may not be goofy.

An interesting detail is that Richter, aged 85, says he finds painting tiring now and will devote his energies to drawing. His drawings slap me in the face with a reality that I struggle in all honesty to fathom, ratify and prosecute in my own trivial practice: Drawing is important; what you draw is not.

“22.9.2022 (6),” an ink and pencil drawing from 2022. Credit… via Gerhard Richter and David Zwirner.
“18.7.21,” from 2021, is all-pencil. Credit… via Gerhard Richter and David Zwirner.

(Roberta Smith, “Gerhard Richter Rides Again,” New York Times, 3-16-23)

(c) 2023 JMN — EthicalDative. All rights reserved

About JMN

I live in Texas and devote much of my time to easel painting on an amateur basis. I stream a lot of music, mostly jazz, throughout the day. I like to read and memorize poetry.
This entry was posted in Commentary, Quotations and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to ‘They Can Feel Almost Like Exquisite Texts to Be Read’

  1. What an interesting post Jim. Nice to know you can keep drawing beautifully even when you’re 85 years old!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m sure you will be Jim!

    Liked by 1 person

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