After things had calmed down around Daniel Richter, he is back now with his exhibition Hello, I Love You!. When habits outshine knowledge, it’s time to enter new territory, this was the reason for Daniel Richter to break with the past. The result of this reorientation is shown at the Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt now.
When Daniel Richter came back to his studio after a two months leave three years ago with the plan to finish a couple of almost finalized pictures, it began to dawn on him, that his tool, the brush, was top dog in the studio now. Routine is one of the most dangerous paths for any artist who is in search of self-knowledge when creating art, that’s why Daniel Richter banned the brush and took a palette-knive to regain superiority over his pictures. The 22 large-sized pictures presented at the Schirn never have been seen in public before and are a break in the work of Daniel Richter. It was a challenge for him to push the formal reduction as far as possible, charging the meaning at the same time. ”In the process of painting and thinking it’s always this ’change’, which is interesting. The result, the finished painting, is always just a milestone on a longer journey.” The exhibition title is programmatic, the word ”love” is one of the words existing which are most devoid of meaning, but nevertheless it stands for the meaning and purpose of life, just as important as knowledge. It’s not the destination, it’s the journey, with Zen-Buddhist patience Daniel Richter has integrated stripes in his pictures that run counter to the grand expressive gestures of his earlier work.
Daniel Richter had his breakthrough with figurative neo-expressionistic pictures, they are a mirror of the eighties.
The figurative Neo-Expressionism Daniel Richter had his breakthrough with, represents, so to speak, a picture book of the autonomous squatter scene of the eighties. Wild hordes marauding the town like ghost lights, faceless figures who conceal which side they belong to. These pictures appear like graffiti with their superimposed layers of paint, interspersed neon colors and their graphic linearity that disintegrates the surface.
Daniel Richter adopted an anti-authoritarian attitude early and made his career as a typical leftist intellectual of the eighties. Living in shared flats and squatted houses, listening to records, political commitment and reading philosophers dominated everyday life. An everyday life between Karl May, Karl Marx and Carl Barks, which required also, on the other hand, to be able to defend oneself against assaults by HSV hooligans and right-wing extremists. That needed martial arts, together with squatters, criminals, SWAT officers and real athletes who met at demonstrations, with some of them standing on the other side.
Daniel Richter demonstrates the art of self-defence against the established order.
The art of self-defence is also the picture programme of the new paintings. Daniel Richter’s pictures ask for space, he prefers large-sized canvases on which his figures can fight many a battle against their creator, against the canvas, and against themselves. As in real life the borderlines between left and right are blurred, the figures switch sides constantly, close to the limit of absolute abstraction they are interlocked on the surface. Conglomerated balls of lines superimpose the surfaces lying below, in this point of view they almost resemble the brides of the wind by Max Ernst who refused to give in to painting routine just like Daniel Richter, as self-knowledge was more important to him than the product.
Formal reduction and charging the content is the new challenge for Daniel Richter.
Daniel Richter is interested in iconic pictures which are reduced to the essential like pictograms blocking out the narrative, but being charged with content at the same time. This includes stock charts, maps and pornographic pictures that serve as inspiration. In this regard the down-to-earth Hanseatic pragmatism of the former squatter shines through again who preferred to watch the hustle and bustle of the great world theatre, sitting on a fuse box and eating French fries at the Davidstrasse corner Reeperbahn. Daniel Richter isn’t a romantic, he doesn’t believe in political art to have the power to make the world a better place, at best in the evolution of art which in turn could make the world a better place. He prefers to read the political and business section of the newspaper, skipping the feuilleton, and is skeptical towards the semi-criminal art market, as there neither the beauty of art nor the questioning of pictures take place.
Daniel Richter calls himself not a stylist but a methodologist with slight mental blackouts and black holes. He needs to work by himself, for him painting is a decision for solitude to be able to brood on his own in the room, to force himself to commit the mistakes that might evoke the potential for a future picture. Daniel Richter has banned the ghosts of the past, the figures of the Hafenstrasse now, one may miss them, but to run counter to the expectations of the public is the legitimate right of the painter. Since there are artists who serve the art market and those who are committed to their own self-knowledge only.
09.10. – 17.01.16 Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt