29
Feb 04

Gerhard Richter at the Whitechapel Art Gallery

The Brown WedgePost a comment • 248 views

Gerhard Richter at the Whitechapel Art Gallery

I’ve never seen so many images in one show – there are several thousand – so on that basis maybe this justifies the high ‘8.50 admission. It’s dominated by his long-term, continuing Atlas project. We get lots of framed sets of images, mostly photos, mostly taken by Richter I think (no credits), plus some clippings and drawings and diagrams. They come in sets: snowy mountains, mother & baby, cityscapes, flowers and so on. The most interesting are those he frames in drawings as if they are a design for an exhibition, or sometimes as if they are views (often ones that make no sense) through picture windows (unless that’s just my misinterpretation). He plays with framing in various ways, with scribbles and bits of tape, sometimes not properly fitting the photo. The photos themselves are mostly of limited interest, but the groupings somehow become compelling, and the transitions between groups have some force too: a friend with whom I went claimed it was tremendously exciting to suddenly see a picture of a person after several hundred landscapes, and I see his point. I also suspect that the serious eye problems I have at present made such a vast number of images unusually hard work simply to see, so I was not necessarily at my most receptive.

Still, my favourite parts of the show were the bonus extras, not part of the Atlas project: a gorgeous large abstract painting where he has scraped away areas of the paint, clearly at differing stages of dryness; and a blood red ‘mirror painting’, which is an eerie thing to see yourself in – another kind of framing, but of the viewer and their environment rather than a created picture.

The show closes on March 14th, so get in quickly if you want to see it.

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