- Günther Förg
- each: signed, dated 87 and numbered 1 through 5 on the reverse
- acrylic and lead laid down on wood, in five parts
Günther Förg in a conversation with Thomas Groetz, cited in: Exh. Cat., Vienna and Klosterneuberg, Essl Museum, Günther Förg: Back and Forth, 2007, p. 13
A modern polyptych drawn into abstraction, Untitled consists of five chromatic canvases aligned in formation; a regiment of identical wooden structures enveloped by sheets of unprimed lead and engulfed in pure unadulterated pigment: crimson, white, azure and auburn. Conveying a systemic means of investigating pictorial reality, the present work belongs to Förg’s exhaustive series Lead Paintings, created throughout the late 1980s and early 1990s – a prolific period of production situated at the core of the artist’s extensive oeuvre.
Förg’s formalist installation sees modular components unite and interact dynamically beyond the confines of the picture plane. Re-configuring a Minimalist trajectory, Untitled subjects audiences to a phenomenological encounter as the compositional schema confronts the viewer, provoking a rigorous contemplation of the surrounding space and the in-between.
The present work’s teasingly tangible and visceral surface espouses an affirmative quality, a velvet materiality that is at once harmonious and in disarray. Where oil meets oxidisation, the scintillating natural colour of the metallic strata becomes inherent to the composition. Glimpses of the lead’s rich patina are visible amidst the anti-impasto application of Förg’s paint, rapid and hasty in execution. Despite the immensity of lead and its unyielding, impermeable quality, Förg has achieved a transcendent weightlessness that continues to be unparalleled in abstract painting of this era.
Rebelliously enigmatic, Untitled recoils from interpretation yet it is replete with art historical references. Entrenched in the history of Modernism, Kazimir Malevich, Piet Mondrian, Mark Rothko, Barnett Newman, Robert Ryman, Frank Stella and Richard Serra are all discernible in Förg’s artistic production. However, in manufacturing an extensive body of work devoid of painterly finesse, neither sublime nor auratic, Förg’s autonomous canvases stand in defiant opposition to his predecessors, as well as his contemporaries who engaged in figuration.
A paradigm of Förg’s most intriguing artistic endeavours, Untitled is an exceptional example of Förg’s opus that serves to reaffirm his rank as one of the most important contemporary abstract painters of our time.