Gerhard Richter (National Portrait Gallery, 2nd May 2009)

I experienced this exhibition as an exploration of blurring reality both literally and metaphorically. I was fascinated by the images in this exhibition, and it felt really uncomfortable looking at some of the images which are actually blurred, in contrast to viewing images in recent exhibitions such as the Face 2008 and the Annie Leibovitz exhibitions. Many of the paintings in the exhibition are based on photographs, and the use of oil on canvas, the effect feels like watching a film in slow motion. Richter’s technique signals to me that this is a key powerful moment, and a moment of expectation that something is about to happen. For example, the portrait of Bridget Bardot and her mother titled, ‘Mutter und Tochter‘, conveys the sense of the two women walking down the street as if captures a a moment in time. Bardot looks as if she is about to smile and her mother looks secure and confident as if she is supporting the slightly anxious daughter. When observing the image, I felt that I was trying to anticipate the moments that are to follow.

Other images in the exhibition such as images produced after the death of Kennedy attempt to take subjects out of context and in doing this makes them even more unsettling. In contrast some works deal with the personal such as ‘Gilbert and George’ which fuses the two men’s profiles together and several portraits of the artists’ daughter Betty.

Reviews and Previews


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Gerhard Richter National Portrait Gallery

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