Posted by Sanni W.,
Thomas Richartz‘ exhibition “Religionsunterricht“ immediately caught my attention, not only through the gold coloring and the sheer size of the paintings (1,80 x 2 up to 3m), but also because of the space they were exhibited in, namely a huge industrial warehouse. What I enjoyed immensely was his playful way of using the concept that the meaning of art is constructed by both the artist and the viewer. Visitors could access a list which contained the titels of the nine paintings (all taken from Tucholsky poems), but did not say which title “belonged” to which painting, thus leaving interpretative freedom.
Richartz never uses titles that directly describe his works of art. With this series he returned to a more figurative and thus less abstract and less chaotic style. The inspiration classical art has on him originated in his childhood. It used to be a sort of counterpole to the tristesse that surrounded him.
“Armes Berlin” (“Poor Berlin”): The title of the painting seems to be in contrast to its golden colouring: the stripes in the backgroud for instance could belong to a bourgeoise dining hall.
The figure in the painting at hand seems oppressed, but somehow oblivious to it and also appears strangely supported by the stripes and the other elements. It seems to exist in a sort of virtual world or a dream. Though the figure – probably a woman – seems classical at first glance, it reminds me of poverty, of people in the streets of Berlin who are so much on drugs that they are oblivious of all that is going on around them and who seem to exist in another dimension.