Günther Förg - Untitled
Acrylic on canvas. 250 x 420 cm. Signed and dated 'Förg 98'. Directional arrows verso on canvas. - Traces of studio and minor traces of age.
Förg shifts the origin of his own strategies for a visual language, which feeds on the strict legacy of Piet Mondrian and his contemporary Blinky Palermo, who died in 1977, as well as on the artistic approaches of other artists such as Barnett Newman, Clifford Still, and Sean Scully: what is purported to be strictly referenced is attributed the same great nonchalance which makes Förg's works so unmistakably strong at its encounter. The artist supports his typical 'light-footed' visual language with a swift and thin paint application and challenges the viewer in direct confrontation. No glossing over, no illusion, spontaneously placed cubes, as is the case here, do not appear elaborated; the superficially set simplicity, an expressive abundance, are toned down by extreme stylisation. A provokingly translucent structure of paint application suggests a calm ease of presentation; the artist entrusts the stirringly colourful constellation to the set contrasts, which do not necessarily strive for harmonic balance.
Aside from the spontaneous grid paintings, Förg also paints a sort of architectonic 'wall formation' with enclosed areas as in this remarkable format, 250 cm high and 450 cm wide, seemingly ordered cubic areas in black and signal red tones: cadmium red or vermilion. The contrast to the black enhances the impact of the red tinge and makes it glow like fire, confirming the autonomy of the red. Förg generates the change of rhythm between the almost informally set squares on the red surface in his typically 'imprecise' form of presentation negating the vertically and horizontally imagined auxiliary lines in order to allow the elements their intended autonomy. Förg develops the seemingly imperfect to his own sense of perfection, which allows him to transfer even the tiniest symbol into oversized formats.
The large-format paintings appear to be literally bursting out of the spaces in which they hang, without anyone having an immediate explanation for the astonishing effect. Without a doubt, Förg's works have a strong suggestive power intrinsic to painting, which, above all, develops an effect through the conceptual design of content and execution. It is not the symmetric, the regular, that triggers the enthusiasm for Förg, but rather the architectural details, perhaps even fragments, whose proportions and views lead to the idiosyncratic artistic monumentality. The passer-by is confronted with abstract geometric emblematics, which are transformed into the aesthetic simplicity of a deliberately chosen emptiness in order to decrease radicality from the inherent minimalism. Förg seeks to extract this for a direct, almost physical correlation and counteracts a systematic, pleasing form of painting, perhaps in favour of a fleeting presence.
'The ease and speed of his creative work is just as impressive as the virtuosity, which borders on the risky, so that the artist can genuinely change into the role of the performer,' such is the descriptive evaluation of Siegfried Gohr, which he prefaces and appends to a conversation with Günther Förg in Cologne in 1997: 'In addition to such an impression, the scarcity of the economy, from which the respective finding of form emerges, is astounding. His work lacks any narrative moment. It is rather directed entirely towards visual conciseness, which does not shy away from traits of elegance.' (Günther Förg. Siegfried Gohr in: Kunst heute, no. 18, Cologne, Kiepenheuer&Witsch, 1997, p.10).
We would like to thank Michael Neff from Estate Günther Förg for kind confirmation of this work's authenticity.
Corporate Collection, Rhineland
Mönchengladbach 1998/1999 (Städtisches Museum Abteiberg), Günther Förg, Was andern selbstverständlich, ist uns Problem, exhib.cat., p.9 with colour illus.