Gerhard Wittner was awarded the Reinhold Kurth Art Prize of the Frankfurter Sparkasse in 1990. After the exhibition of Nicole van den Plas last year, this is the second time that the award-winner is presented at Portikus.

Gerhard Wittner, born 1926 and died 1998, has lived in Frankfurt since his youth. He studied at the Städelschule under Wilhelm Heise and Albert Burkart, and at the Academy of Arts in Munich under Xaver Fuhr.

Since the end of the 50s, Gerhard Wittner has been developing a type of painting dealing with the perception of colour and the way it is experienced in the painting. After emphasising the material aspect of colour in two early groups of works with broad lanes of colour applied with controlled gestures, he calmed down at the beginning of the sixties. This process of clarification took place within the course of a few years and led to a reduction of colour and to simple, geometric, pictorial structures. This process evolved with a consistency that, in retrospect, proved it to be an almost inevitable development.

Starting in the mid-sixties, Wittner radicalises his picture language by concentrating on light grey-shades. His main focus is on the interaction of colours, whose subtle hue and light shades are increased by preferably using small picture formats. Wittner's painting is not based on any conceptual attitude in the sense of a systematic examination of colour-form-relationships. He is, moreover, concerned with intensifying the process of perception, allowing the viewer to discover the tensions effective in the picture. "I am interested in vibration, the immaterial, instability, motion, in what moves, in dissolving linear references, in the relation of colours to each other, in the way colours breathe."

In the exhibition, pictures dating from 1989 to 1991 are shown, in which Wittner evokes an aspect new to him: the continuous, at times soft linking of colour surfaces aimed at exploring the interrelations of their ability to separate and connect perception.

Photos: Katrin Schilling