55 South Audley
London W1K 2QH, UK
‘...It is about how you can go with painting to the edge...what is possible in painting’. – Günther Förg
Massimo De Carlo London is proud to present a suite of grey paintings spanning the four decades of German artist Günther Förg’s acclaimed career. First executed in 1973 and continuing through to his death in 2013, these elegant, dense works showcase not only the artist’s evolving relationship with the monochrome, but also embody the multiple material and conceptual concerns found elsewhere across his broad practice.
A mainstay of his early career, Förg began his first monochrome paintings whilst still studying at the Academy Fine Arts, Munich in the 1970s. These have proven to be some of the darkest of his canvases, the infinite tones of grey wash layered translucently with a sponge, leaving highlights that barely stifle the stark black of the primer beneath, as if streaks on a school chalkboard. From 1973 to 1976 Förg was executing one painting a week, every week and, gradually, what had initially been an exercise in reduction and refusal became a process of accretion, opening up the surface of his paintings and establishing the textural diversity that would come to characterise his work.
By the mid-1990s, the grey paintings had become more gesturally dense, their nimble execution, tonal complexity and compositional layering implicitly referencing the extent of Förg’s materially eclectic practice. Despite most immediately resembling the deconstructed hatching of the ‘Gitterbilder’ or ‘Grid Paintings’, here too is visible the material physicality of the 1970s ‘Lead Paintings’, the windows and staircases of the mid-1980s architectural photography, the floating horizon lines of the late 1980s ‘Window Watercolours’ and the gauged, undulating surfaces of the 1990s bronzes. With their jagged fields and broken zips, these paintings remain touchstones for Förg’s entire practice, embodying it’s emotional handling of formal disciplines and geometric structures.