Daniel Richter disrupts the flow of painting language. There is an unexpected twist at the end of all the parts within the painting. The colour is bright, the faces are painted in a naïve manner and the narrative (although unknown) is powerful and aggressive. There are so many decisions which do not make sense. Some parts are ‘dashed off’ and others have been given attention. There is for me a real sense of the representational information coming out of the paintings surface as though pushing through the abstract gesture, pushing through the flatness and the void of information. This painting is not only discussing the way abstraction can relate to representation but also the decision making process of the artist, why are the choices made, are they random or are they meticulously considered. Daniel Richter uses the provisional technique of pulling the paint back from the viewer as if to say ‘ I can tell you have almost worked this painting out, so I am going to change it a little, then a little more’ until you cannot draw a definitive narrative and you cannot resolve the intention. There is also a shying away from grandness for what seems like willingness or a need to take chances and risk what Rubinstein calls the ‘collapse’ of the painting.
This painting is about ‘painting’, there is an image and there is gestural abstraction but the role of these techniques is to bring the viewer into the space that makes a contemporary painted surface. There is no gimmick or concept, the painting exists through engagement with the process of making and shines as an example of how we try to explain what painting can be.
Frank Stella once suggested, the hardest thing about painting is to find out how to make a painting and for me, artists like Daniel Richter and Peter Doig show how easy and how difficult that can be.