Daniel Richter

Daniel Richter was born in 1962 in Eutin (Germany). Today, he lives and works in Berlin. The artist has shaped painting in Germany since the 1990s as few others have done. In his large-scale oil paintings, Richter dovetails set pieces of art history, mass media and pop culture into idiosyncratic, narrative pictorial worlds. Daniel Richter studied 1992-1996 with Werner Büttner – one of the protagonists, along with Martin Kippenberger, of the revival of expressive trends in painting during the 1980s – at the Hamburg Academy of Fine Arts, and worked as assistant to Albert Oehlen. Initially, he did abstract paintings, with a cosmos of forms intensely colourful to the point of being psychedelic – somewhere between graffiti and intricate ornamentation.

Since 2002 he has painted large-scale scenes filled with figures, often inspired by reproductions from newspapers or history books. These show conflict and menace in excessive aggression and vitality. The symbolist painter James Ensor and the pioneer of expressionism, Edvard Munch, might be seen here as Richter's artistic forebears. The representation of artificial light, flashlight, thermal image or X-ray picture evokes an atmosphere of artificiality and nervosity. The theme of total surveillance seems to be an important motif in Richter's œuvre – the association with infra-red and thermal imaging cameras is unavoidable, revealing a paranoid view. Richter's subjects suggest allusion to current politics, but on closer inspection, we see that this is not so.

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