Gerhard Richter: Selected Works at the Marian Goodman Gallery
With its blinding white walls, columns and ceilings, naked of the dust and smudges that colour more weather-worn galleries, Marian Goodman’s new London space is cold and barren, desperate for an injection of life. Instead, Gerhard Richter, whose self-selected exhibition inaugurates the gallery, fills it with a series of shiny, heartless works that reflect their surroundings and intensify the space’s sterility.
An important artist, and one of the most valued living painters, Richter focuses his art on method and media, experimenting with new processes in controlled conditions and displaying their results. In the Strip series, one of the principal new pieces in the exhibition, Richter takes a digital photograph of an old oil painting, divides it vertically thousands of times, then stretches each cut horizontally to create a tableau of brightly coloured lines that seem to oscillate by optical illusion. Similarly laboratorial, Flow is the result of freezing coloured enamels onto panes of glass, capturing the patterns that form as the fluids interact. Though the results of such experimentation can be visually impressive, as works of art they are two-dimensional and ultimately dull. Their subject is the artistic process itself, and they provide little for the spectator to engage with, neither pricking emotion nor galvanising thought.
The works that decorate the main space on the ground floor are equally anaemic, focusing more on reflecting the architecture around them than displaying any substance themselves. The Dopplegrau diptychs contrast large glass panels coloured different shades of grey that mirror the room at varying intensities, while the sculpture Seven Panes of Glass (House of Cards) reflects its oppressively white surroundings and the fluorescent ceiling lights at different angles. Everything in the room is lifeless and monochrome; the works repel rather than absorb.
Ultimately, it is Richter’s sense of self-importance that shines off the glass and Perspex surfaces. The works scream “look what I have made; look how I made it”, but have no further justification as artworks, giving little for their audience to contemplate. It is Meccano masquerading as modern art – impressively built but uninteresting.
Gerhard Richter: Selected Works is at the Marian Goodman Gallery until 20th December 2014, for further information visit here.