In April of this year, Portikus exhibited Gerhard Richter's cycle "October 18, 1977", a work met with extraordinary national and international response, by the audience as well as the critics.

After ICA in London had taken over the exhibition in the summer, the pictures were the last part of a comprehensive presentation of Richter at the Rotterdam Museum Boymans van Beuningen, the concept of which was aimed at placing the cycle in the context of Richter's GRAUE BILDER (GREY PICTURES) from the mid-seventies and the more recent ABSTRAKTE BILDER (ABSTRACT PICTURES).

In a one-week intervention organised at short notice, Portikus shows the large ABSTRACT PICTURES entitled "November", "December", "January", which Richter painted following his investigations in the Stammheim cycle. The intention is to illustrate the complex work-inherent relationship existing between both groups of works. A relationship which can be revealed as a process of development within his oeuvre referring beyond the methodical distinction between abstraction and realism to their analogous perception as image. i.e. to the reality of the picture.

Richter's concept of painting cannot be reduced to a style which subjects the contents to a certain form of representation. His main concern is questioning the theme, which in turn calls for a specific form of representation.

In the Stammheim pictures, especially, there is an extreme danger of ignoring this interdependent relationship, i.e. discussing the addressed topic isolated from the paintings themselves. This danger stems from the misunderstanding that in Richter's Stammheim cycle we are dealing with reproductions conveying the pre-defined view inherent in what is reproduced. But Richter attacks exactly those viewer perspectives that do not differentiate, that equate the photographic reproduction with the reality of what is reproduced.

Such a perspective obscures the view of the pictures, as it disregards the question of their concrete theme, which, in the end, is the decisive approach to interpreting them. Through his realisation in painting, Richter increases the distance existing between the real object and its re-production in the photograph, lifting it to a third level of contemplation. The abstracting view of the reproduced model therefore distances itself from the models claim to authenticity regarding the represented event, and thus allows the theme to be perceived differently, oriented towards reality.

Compared to this, the ABSTRACT PICTURES appear as realisations of an analogous view of the image. The meaning of the picture is defined by the density of precisely calculated intertwining and overlapping painting processes. This meaning differs from the figuratively determined and thus immediately recognisable content, insofar as the field of empirical certainty is left and the shortcomings of perceptual capacities are confronted with a reality existing only within and through the picture.

Photos: Katrin Schilling