Magazine article Artforum International

Daniel Richter: KESTNERGESELLSCHAFT

Magazine article Artforum International

Daniel Richter: KESTNERGESELLSCHAFT

Article excerpt

During a recent conversation in his studio, Daniel Richter observed that a great deal of contemporary painting comes across as a revivification of the art produced in the twentieth century: "In formal terms, we seem to be bringing the dead to life." The task of Richter's generation, as he sees it, is to make the achievements of the moderns more radical. Richter's recent exhibition "l0001nacht" (10001 night) offered an overview of recent developments in his art. It featured a dozen drawings from his 2008-2009 "Love Parade" series; seven small-scale paintings from a series titled with the invented word "Spagotzen," 2010; and eighteen large paintings dated 2011. The surprising thing is that Richter's recent paintings and drawings turn out to be much more linear and owe less to the plane and the stain than his earlier work. Some pieces, in the spirit of the remark quoted above, evoke predecessors such as Edvard Munch. But his sources extend beyond painting, into geological maps, for instance, or thermography.

After his grim cityscapes of the previous decade, Richter has now turned to landscape, a rugged, empty, unfathomable terrain populated by lonesome "heroes"--nomads, soldiers, troubadours. You can't sense the undertone of German Romanticism: the emphasis on the experience of nature 5 and the quest for the transcendent in the landscape. Indeed, in a sense s Richter is a Romantic painter, but nevertheless he maintains an ironic, skeptical distance from the profound emotions and existential reflections that Romanticism entails. Consider the absurd scenes embedded in & his landscapes: A Pashtun receives a blow job beneath his wide tunic (The Strangers of Comfort, 2011) while another offers a light to a Marlboro cowboy (HEYJOE, 2011). Elsewhere, men hold objects that resemble both Kalashnikovs and guitars at once; the Taliban meets pop culture. …

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