Art Quote for the Day

27 December 1985

Terrible and challenging, the blank canvas shows nothing – because the Something that is to take the place of Nothing cannot be evolved from Nothing, though the latter is so basic that one wants to believe in it as the necessary staring point.

It is not possible to visualize Nothing.  One way to gain some idea of that terrible state is through the impossibility of visualizing anything before, after or alongside the universe.  Now , since we very much want this visualization, but know it only as one that we can never have, it is an impossibility that we experience, existentially, as an absolute limit.

Thus, without a visualization, we stand  in front of the empty canvas and can respond – as ever – only with ignorance and madness, by making what statement we can:  a surrogate, basically, but one that we believe can somehow touch the impossible.  ( The advantage of my Grey Pictures  is that they seem to unmask all other statements, whether object-bound or abstract, as surrogates, and arbitrary ones at that.  In natural terms, however, they are still the same statements.)

The Abstract Pictures are no less arbitrary than all object-bound representations (based on any old motif, which is supposed to turn into a picture).  The only difference is that in these the ‘motif’ evolves only during the process of painting.  So they imply  that I do not know  what I want to represent , or how to begin; that I have only highly imprecise and invariably false ideas of the motif that I am to make into a picture; and therefore  that – motivated as I am solely by ignorance and frivolity – I am in a position to start.

Gerhard Richter – The Daily Practice of Painting