I stumbled upon a very interesting artist the other day and his approach and practice were very inspiring. Gerhard Richter was born in 1932 in Dresden, where he grew up under National Socialism and then lived under East German Communism. He eventually fled to West Germany and over his extensive working life as an artist traversed many different styles and content. He is now considered one the greatest living artists. So naturally, I was curious and was delighted to discover a documentary of him working in his studio. It was fascinating. One isn’t often given the access or privilege of seeing such an accomplished artist at work. I particularly was captivated by his personal philosophies, which he offered in occasional moments. He painted very large canvases, and he would randomly apply large areas of colour before taking an enormous squeegee, the length of the canvas and drag it across the surface, smearing the paint. So the work has independence about it. It relies on chance and choice. They are strong, timeless and almost transcendent. I was especially taken by his variety of styles and it was an endorsement for me, as I do have a number of approaches to my arts practice. I am trying to develop a clearer and more focused style, which is looser and more lyrical. One sentence he spoke particularly resonated with me,
“ …to talk about painting is not only difficult, but perhaps pointless too. You can only express in words what words are capable of expressing, what language can communicate, and painting has nothing to do with that.” (G.Richter, “Painting”, 2011)
I was also recently interested in the artist Raffi Lavie, a highly influential Israeli artist, whose works are sparse, rough, almost childish and extremely minimalist. They seemed brave and challenging to me. I like the space he places his figures and objects in the picture frame and despite that I don’t particularly warm to the works, their essence did inspire me to reduce the content and structure that I feel exists in my own work.