Details & Cataloguing

Contemporary Art Day Auction


Daniel Richter
B. 1962
signed, titled and dated 2011 on the reverse
oil on canvas
200.5 by 300.5 cm. 79 by 118 1/4 in.
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Contemporary Fine Arts, Berlin
Acquired from the above by the present owner


Hanover, Kestnergesellschaft, Daniel Richter 10001nacht, September - November 2011, p. 9, illustrated in colour

Catalogue Note

First exhibited in 2011 as part of his seminal exhibition, 1001nacht at the Hanover Kestnergesellschaft, Natti Dread continues Daniel Richter’s rich series of neon-punk dystopian visions. In these works, Richter interrogates painterly traditions, interpreting the world through his explosive scenes and astute pop-culture references. While the works presented have a tongue-in-cheek punk aesthetic, the core of his practice is his critical understanding of the properties of paint. Starting with abstraction in the early 1990s, Richter only made the move to representational painting in 2002. While his work shifted dramatically, his engagement with the core principles of paint remain unchanged, and it is precisely his understanding of the fundamentals of the medium that makes his work so moving. As stated by Richter himself, “Ultimately, there is no difference between abstraction and figurative painting, apart from certain forms of their decipherability, but the problems of organising paint on surface always remain the same” (Anon., Thaddaeus Ropac, Artmap, 2010, online).

Intense colour fields and striking characters fill Richter’s epic 2 by 3 metre composition, in which a figure looks across a valley to the luminescent golden figure across from him. Cast against a seismographic background, the scene is at once sublime and unsettling, unifying the romantic and the uncanny. At the heart of Natti Dread is a sense of ambiguity; the figure in the foreground, bearing the torn flag and rag-tag outfit of a soldier watches as a golden woman scales the sheer façade of a mountain, leaving a glowing trail in her wake. He is at once chance observer and possible pursuer and she, otherworldly threat and pursued runaway. Gestural lines, like tendrils of writhing plasma, create the shapes and curves of the painting, like contour rings displaying elevation in cartography. Through his use of part-scientific and part-abstracted lines, Richter's composition gains a rich depth and sense of volume, creating a sense of reality despite the hallucinatory colour palette. 

Natti Dread takes as its conceptual departure-point 19th century Romantic Painting. Like Caspar David Friedrich’s Wanderer above the Sea of Fog, the man in the foreground stands poised on a precipice, contemplative and pitched against his environment. Richter, however, draws on the German Neo-Expressionists for his tone and style. He follows in the wake of artists such as Georg Baselitz, Anselm Kiefer and Gerhard Richter for whom the criticality of painting is the primary concern. Supported by artists such as Albert Oehlen, whom Richter assisted in the early 1990s, Richter employs the themes of early Romanticism and transforms them into something entirely contemporary. As such, Richter’s figures maintain a poetic beauty while simultaneously inhabiting a violent, invigorated world full of danger and promise.

Contemporary Art Day Auction