Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Gerhard Richter Cages - review of the new Tate gallery

Visiting the new Transformed Visions gallery at the Tate Modern, I came to the last room and was surprised to see the Gerhard Richter "Cage" paintings just as they'd been shown at the retrospective last year (in a slightly different room).

I'd enjoyed the Richter exibition, not knowing about his work previously, and liked the "Cage" paintings best, along with the iceberg painting.

My reaction this time was even stronger.

The Richter cage paintings are like strange damaged landscapes. Like old suburban photos that were trapped in a flood, water damaged. Almost fragmented except the composition still hints at borders and horizons, but some lost familiar image is softened beyond recognition. Being alien and new as paintwork but at the same time mundane and nostalgic like captured memories.

One makes me think of 80s Chicago backyard barbecues, while another takes me to rainy Glasgow canals. Oddly, despite their vastness, none of these makes me think of the sea or a landscape - something I generally see in most abstract paintings.

Also, looking without my glasses actually dilutes the entire experience; usually when I do that it's an enjoyable reduction to pure elements. But here the paintings need all the marks, both sharp and dragged. They're like little scars and bruises that are what the painting is about. A pain in the pleasure. The yellow-green one makes me think of sunlight and spring (someone behind me says "sunflowers") but at the same time the green is slightly wrong, too acidic, and its like sludge at the top. Of course this is exactly what the Glasgow canals are like.

I realise I don't want to leave this room.

Then wandering back through the gallery rooms there is a Turner in front of me, and I realise the marks there are also little scars.

If you missed the Gerhard Richter: Panorama retrospective in 2011-2012 the Tate do have an excellent Richter app with the paintings, the blog, and the audio tour.

See the coast paintings tina-m.com
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