Oh la la, Daniel Richter’s new exhibition at Contemporary Fine Arts in Berlin is not what most avid viewers of the artist’s work have come to expect. While it includes over two dozen new paintings by Richter, in a style that is undeniably his own, a number of select new elements leave the exhibition less reconciled – open to the future.
The new paintings have none of the brash immediate impact of Richter’s previous larger works. In actuality, the new lot of small paintings on view, ask that one come closer and have acute attention to detail. Richter’s palette is still tagged and tainted with his orange neon. The subject matter is macabre in a number of the works. In Cazareta (2009), two wolves occupy a snowy field and beyond them the edge of a lake; they notice the viewer and stare back through gleaming blue eyes. In another entitled Winterreise 5 (2009) a ghastly cloaked figure skirts across another snowy field. Behind the spectre looms a thick dark wood. Arguably now traditional in many ways, the new paintings extend the dialog already established in Richter’s paintings between the supernatural entity and the realism of the soldier and other recurring subjects.
In a constellation through the gallery, on both floors, are gigantic crystals, brought in from Hamburg for the exhibition. A huge geode of Amethyst is backed up against the wall to sit between two paintings. In the center the gallery, a slab of petrified wood, on which two other geological marvels are stationed, diagonally divides the space. As found objects, the minerals have a significant relationship to the painting. Being hundreds of millions of years old, the stones suggest a viewpoint near the eternal when interpreting the paintings. In moving between stone and oil, one can’t help but look at the works in terms of epochs and eras, seeing the painter as shaper of time.
Daniel Richter was born in 1962 in Eutin, Germany. Richter has shown his work in galleries and institutions across the world, including recent exhibitions at the Denver Art Museum, the Essl Museum, Regen Projects in Los Angeles, and David Zwirner Gallery in New York. He lives and works in Berlin and Hamburg.