- Günther Förg
- 各60.3 x 40.5公分；23 3/4 x 15 7/8英寸
Private Collection, Europe (acquired from the above circa 1990)
Acquired from the above by the present owner
Displaying an inherently formalist preoccupation with construction and seriality, Untitled unites surfaces of ebony, off-white, deep crimson, pacified azure, fleshy peach and muted saffron. As a whole, the sequence is made coherent by parallel horizontal bands of green; emerald bars that further function as a framing device. Entrenched in the history of Modernism, the jet-black abyss is redolent of Suprematist Kazimir Malevich, while the voids of white indicate an allegiance to Robert Ryman as well as the precursor to such artistic practices: John Cage’s 4’33”, a symphony of silence composed in 1952. Furthermore, Förg’s affiliation with colour and composition undoubtedly reference the revolutionary work of Abstract Expressionist giants, Mark Rothko and Barnett Newman. However, while his predecessors produced immense canvases with a metaphysical and spiritual quality, Förg manufactured an entire series devoid of painterly finesse, neither auratic nor sublime.
In this respect, Förg’s inimitable style occupies a complex juncture between the work of Donald Judd and Georg Baselitz. The present work’s visible brushstrokes and expressionist gestural handling belongs to a previous generation of German painters while the seriality of Förg’s chromatic panels are symptomatic of a factory line form of production; herein, Förg’s machine-like fabrication follows an inherently Minimalist trajectory. Much like the anti-rationalistic sculptures of Donald Judd, Sol LeWitt, and Carl Andre, Förg’s lead structures unite to form a cohesive whole. Thus, Untitled at once invokes rigorous contemplation of its inherent physical properties and the surrounding gallery space. However, beyond austere objectivity, Förg’s Lead Paintings suggest an adversity to the sleek and mass produced aesthetic of the 1960s. Rather, in drawing parallels with the transient seriality and elemental materiality of Land artists such as Richard Long and Walter de Maria, Förg’s demonstrates a preoccupation with the ephemeral, organic, and the hand made.
With a beaten tactility, the visceral surfaces of Untitled espouse a paradoxical materiality that is at once harmonious and in disarray. Despite the immensity of lead and its heavy, impermeable quality, Förg has achieved a transcendent weightlessness that is profoundly hypnotic. Where oxidisation meets synthetic acrylic colour, the natural tone of the metallic ground becomes integral to the composition. On reflection, Förg has 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” (Günther Förg in conversation with David Ryan, in: David Ryan, Talking Painting: Dialogue with Twelve Contemporary Abstract Painters, London 2002, p. 77).
Examining the legacy of Modernist painting in a postmodern age, Förg’s procession of autonomous panels contradict the concerns of his German contemporaries, the Neue Wilden, who found motivation in mythology and figuration. Hallmarking a defiant reinvigoration of formal abstraction, Förg reaffirms a Modernist genealogy with a materially imposing means of investigating the limitations of pictorial reality. Untitled is a paradigm of Förg’s extraordinary opus and reaffirms his rank among the most influential painterly voices of the late Twentieth Century.