Q : Do you believe in your own paintings?
A: There are few that I like, but I wouldn’t go so far as to stand up and say I believe in them.
Q: But surely you ought – otherwise why go to all that trouble?
A: Of course, I have to believe that I can produce something useful. And the pleasure of making counts for a lot in painting- as when someone’s making music. There’s no room for doubt.
Q: doubt as to what?
A: That it might make no sense, or be unnecessary or passe’
Q: Doubt as to the possibility of still making a picture you can believe in?
A:There are so many believable pictures in the world, and we love them; we travel long distances to see them. We need them . And there are some people who need to make picutres themselves.
Q: How does this question of need relate to your earlier statement that you were looking for the maximum possible indifference?
A: This was an attempt at self-protection – saying that I was indifferent, that I didn’t care, and so on. I was aftaid my pictures might seem too sentimental. But I don’t mind admitting now that it was no coincidence that I painted things that mattered to me personally- the tragic types, the murderers and suicides, the failures, and so on.
Q: Is the painted picture closer to the reality or to the appearance?
A: In one sense it’s closer to the appearance, but then it has more reality than a photograph, because a painting is more of an object in itself, because it’s visibly hand-painted, because it has been tangibly and materially produced. That gives it a reality of its own, which then as it were substitutes for the reality of the cup.
Q: So can a painted appearance tell us more about reality?
A: Perhaps it can, because it’s more unsettling. It’s always more or less different from reality, and that’s unsettling. You ask more questions.
Q: You get closer?
A: Yes, closer to our relationship with reality. The cup on its own is boring.
The Daily Practice of Painting – Gerhard Richter