The National Portrait Gallery is currently displaying a series of fantastic pieces by Gerhard Richter, whose work I knew very little about and was pleasantly surprised to discover.
So, what medium do you think the artist used for the pieces shown above? Photography? No, as incredible as it might seem, these are paintings. And then you realise why some see Richter as one of the greatest living contemporary painter.
His work, from photographs mainly taken by him, is a representation and interpretation of reality, often blurred. Sometimes he chooses to obscure the identities of the people pictured, making them all the more real yet mysterious. He explains: ‘You realise that you can’t represent reality at all – that what you make represents nothing but itself, and therefore is itself reality’.
Portraying people in ordinary situations, in family or busy, just like candids snapped by paparazzi, Richter gives some life to his paintings, and enables the viewers to engage with the work, to get to know these people by entering into their privacy or their ordinary life. It is a very strange feeling to look at these old pictures, and imagine the lives of these people, with this slight feeling of frustration when you see a blurred picture and wish it was clear so you could capture the moment.
The exhibition features almost 50 years of his work, from the 60s to today, and therefore an evolution of his style, from blurry black and white to focused colour pictures. Until 31 May at the National Portrait Gallery, and I do recommend it. Check Gerhard Richter’s website for an extensive selection of his remarkable work.