Unveiling the Enigmatic: Gerhard Richter's Influence on David Guez's Artistic Landscapes
Abstraktes Bild 747-1, 1991
Oil on canvas
200 x 200 cm
© [image owner]
Abstraktes Bild 747-1 is a large-scale oil painting created by Richter in 1991. This artwork is part of his larger Abstraktes Bild [Abstract Painting] series, which he commenced in 1976. This decades-long series stands as a transformative chapter in Richter’s career as it exemplifies his characteristic fusion of painting and photography. As the series evolved–manipulating mediums in order to play with figuration and abstraction–so did Richter’s technique. He transitioned from collage methods incorporating photographic elements to a direct application of paint that favored gestural and pigment-loaded compositions. Abstraktes Bild 747-1 emanates a particularly potent visual and emotional allure, most notably for its rich red hues and dynamic surface. Surveying David Guez’s oeuvre, we can immediately observe formal and thematic affinities with Richter, most clearly in Guez’s own monochromatic compositions.
Spiritual Landscape No. 30 (Crimson Reds), 2021
Oil on canvas
115 x 100 cm
© David Guez
Richter employed an inventive technique using a squeegee to manipulate his painted surfaces, creating mesmerizing blurred effects. 747-1's vibrant red hues and highly active application generate a palpable sense of energy which invites viewers to investigate its essence. Through an impasto technique and integration of elements such as repetition and texture, Guez produces dynamic compositions comprising repeating geometric marks. The resulting rhythmic surfaces at once evoke natural phenomena and otherworldly energy. His canvases simultaneously conceal and reveal, hinting at an underlying narrative and beckoning viewers to explore the enigmatic spaces that lie in between.
For Richter, abstraction is not merely an aesthetic exercise but an opportunity to question the prevailing notions and expectations associated with abstract art. He believed that abstraction had become too detached from the tangible world and lacked a genuine connection to human experience. He approached abstraction as a practical, hands-on exploration of the medium's material and historical properties–a process of creating, layering, and manipulating. Like Richter, David Guez seeks to use abstract art as a conduit for personal expression and a deeper exploration of the human psyche. In both artists' practices, the act of painting serves as a tool for investigating the intricacies of existence. Guez's irregular surfaces reflect a disruption or release of energy that provokes a visceral response akin to Richter's desire to avoid the detachment of abstract art from lived experiences. The scale of Guez’s canvases amplifies the impact of his gestural expressions, enveloping the viewer in an immersive visual experience.
Both Richter and Guez utilize abstraction as a means of going beyond representational constraints to delve into the essence of painting itself. This is especially demonstrated by their understanding of color. Comparing Guez’s Spiritual Landscape No. 15 (Gold on Red) with 747-1, both display intense shades of red with varying tones that create a visual tension across the canvas. Richter’s squeegee technique allows colors to intertwine without fully merging, creating a disorienting depth of field. The resulting subtle peeks of greens, yellows, and creams hint at a lurking emotional or intellectual manifestation. The use of red in Guez's paintings serves as a metaphorical element carrying symbolic implications. Red has historically been associated with a spectrum of meanings, ranging from love to danger. In this work, red becomes an evocative element, transcending its physical presence. The floating yellow form thus emerges as a figure navigating the complexities of human emotions and experiences.
Each in their own manner, Richter and Guez create work that transcends traditional notions of representation, offering viewers a visual experience that goes beyond the immediate surface. By embracing a state of enigma and exploring the spaces that lie between defined forms, both artists evidence the ever-evolving capacities of abstract painting and the transformative dynamics between artist, artwork, and viewer.