Executed in 1990, Untitled embodies the intricately rendered abstraction that characterize Sigmar Polke’s artistic career. Following his critical Pop style of the 1960s and focus upon photography in the 1970s, Polke’s 1980s and early 1990s production fused his earlier concerns towards the pursuit of expressive non-figurative painting largely through his gutsy exploration of materials. Such is particularly apparent in Untitled where a dream-like scene explodes upon the canvas – hovering at the cusp of both a landscape and an abstract painting.
Interestingly this work was painted in 1990 the year of Polke’s critically acclaimed show at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in California. At this pivotal moment in Polke’s career, the canvas of Untitled may be likened to a laboratory, within which experiments in altered states of perception and representation are explored via the unpredictable cross-contamination of paint, resin and fibers. Areas of the canvas with small dots and subtly raised topographies represent patches of erosion, intended to elicit fresh textures within the work. The present work offers up a kind of delicacy in peach and yellow tones placed dreamily upon a clean white background. Such characteristics appear refreshingly pristine in contrast to the dark earth, navy and grey tones that consistently appear in his abstracts of the early 1980s.
Open about his interest in hallucinogenics, Polke strives to expand the sphere of the possible in art, sensuously approaching substances both exotic and mundane. Here, the lighter palette of abstract forms concocts something new, testifying to Polke's endless capacity for morphing and transmuting his own oeuvre, growing intellectually and aesthetically more fecund with a prowess with materials unique among contemporary artist.