In 1976, Richter first gave the title Abstract Painting to one of his works. By presenting a painting without even a few words to name and explain it, he felt he was “letting a thing come, rather than creating it.” In his abstract pictures, Richter builds up cumulative layers of non-representational painting, beginning with brushing big swaths of primary colour onto canvas. The paintings evolve in stages, based on his responses to the picture’s progress: the incidental details and patterns that emerge. Throughout his process, Richter uses the same techniques he uses in his representational paintings, blurring and scraping to veil and expose prior layers. From the mid-1980s, Richter began to use a homemade squeegee to rub and scrape the paint that he had applied in large bands across his canvases.
My research into Richer’s abstract practice goes back several years, mainly focusing on his use and application of thick and heavy pigments. At each stage of the development of my practice, I have revisited Richter’s method of material manipulation, each time noticing and realising new elements to take forward. At this moment, I considered and focused directly on the application of the paint to a surface; mainly how the paint reacts on the underside of the surface.
Throughout this exploration phase, I tested out using oil paint (Richter’s medium) on a variety of surfaces: paper, canvas and glossed tile. The paint onto the tile created an interesting dynamic, a flat and in-permeable surface that allowed the paint to sit directly on top of, not allowing it to soak in. This made me consider other more transparent materials to consider working with: acetate, glass and perspex.