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Details & Cataloguing

Contemporary Curated

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London

Günther Förg
1952 - 2013
UNTITLED
signed and dated 1990 on the reverse
acrylic on lead on wood
150 by 115 cm. 59 by 45 1/4 in.
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This work is recorded in the archive of Günther Förg as No. WVF.90.B.0724. We thank Mr. Michael Neff from the Estate of Günther Förg for the information he has kindly provided on this work.

Provenance

Galleria Pieroni, Rome
Private Collection, Switzerland
Private Collection, Milan
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2001

Exhibited

Catania, Galleria Gianluca Collica, What we want, 2006
Catania, Fondazione Brodbeck, La materia di un sogno. Collezione Paolo Brodbeck, May - July 2013

Catalogue Note

Günther Förg’s Untitled belongs to the artist’s most celebrated body of work – the Lead Paintings. Referencing established tendencies in art-history ranging from the early abstraction of Malevich to hard-edge minimalism and colour field painting in the 1960s, this celebrated body of work brings the material aspects of painting to the forefront. Through a powerful composition of bright orange and white pigment, and the unique coarseness of their interaction with unprimed lead, this extraordinary work re-negotiates the trajectory of Minimalist painting and extents its compositional potential through an unexpected exploration of materials.

Förg’s process-based method uses chemical reactions, and innovative, unconventional metal grounds. Eschewing the traditional canvas support, Förg’s Lead Paintings are made by wrapping sheets of lead, sometimes in several layers, around a wooden frame or panel, before painting directly onto them with no treatment or preparatory ground. In the present work, an early example from 1990, the artist has meticulously covered the oxidised patina of the lead surface with brightly coloured paint, allowing the lead’s textural striations to seep through. Recounting his decision to use lead, Förg remarked: “I like very much the qualities of lead – the surface, the heaviness. Some of the paintings were completely painted, and you only experience the lead at the edges; this gives the painting a very heavy feeling – it gives the colour a different density and weight. In other works the materials would be explicitly visible as grounds. I like to react on things, with the normal canvas you have to kill the ground, give it something to react against. With the metals you already have something – its scratches, scrapes…” (Günther Förg in conversation with David Ryan, in: David Ryan, Talking Painting: Dialogue with Twelve Contemporary Abstract Painters, London 2002, p. 77).

In the present work, Förg has chosen a vibrant orange juxtaposed with areas of white paint – a remarkably light palette for the artist, whose use of dark lead backgrounds often results in much more sombre paintings. Despite the rigid composition of four quadrants, which invokes the squares of Kazimir Malevich or Carl Andre, the unique surface qualities give the painting a tactile appearance. Utilising the unique properties of a base chemical element, the surface becomes an enlivened plateau of intriguing texture through natural oxidation; an effect that is heightened by Förg’s monochrome brushstrokes. The resulting painting is a fascinating contradiction of hard-edge minimalism and a highly detailed, textured surface – an imperfect minimalism that stands as a testament to one of the most original abstract painters of the 80s and 90s.

Contemporary Curated

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London