If you are in Southampton before 18 August, make your way to the John Hansard Gallery to see this free Gerhard Richter exhibition.
The first room contains four large tapestries—Abdu, Yusuf, Iblan and Musa—created in 2009. The designs are based on his famous Abstract Painting, created in 1990.
He photographed the painting and then divided it into four and each tapestry consists of a quarter of the design, reproduced and mirrored four times to give a kaleidoscopic effect. You get a sense of new ideas and patterns with each look.
If you can tear yourself away from them, the next room contains more rich ideas. Richter moves seamlessly from one medium to another—photographing paintings, then projecting and reproducing these.
Another work consists of layers of paint scraped across the canvas that sets your imagination to work. These pieces were produced in stages so that he could study them before moving to the next stage—a time-consuming process.
Somewhat distracting from the exhbition are his comments about German immigration policy.
In a 2016 interview Richter said “We do not welcome refugees.
“I have nothing against foreigners, but it’s not true that we have to welcome everybody. I won’t invite them to dinner”.
Richter’s works are among the most sought-after for rich art collectors. In 2016 one of his paintings sold for almost £18 million.
He developed as an artist in the 1950s. After working as a sign painter’s assistant, then as an assistant set painter in the municipal theatre in Zittan and was finally accepted by the Dresden Art School in 1951.
In 1959 he saw the work of Jackson Pollack and Lucio Fontana which had a huge impact on him—he said it was the real reason he left East Germany.
He produced his first photo paintings—for which he is best known—in 1962.
He photographed people, places and objects, enlarging them, painting over them and adding colour to parts or transforming them to an abstract.
The Hansard Gallery, 142-144 Above Bar St, Southampton SO14 7DU