Günther Förg

Günther Förg uses a variety of mediums—from sculpture and bas-relief to photography and painting—in order to construct a dialogue between a work and the space that surrounds it.
Beginning with his early “Bilder,” oil paintings on aluminium panels, the artist has directed his interest to the relationship between the painted surface and the space in which it is located. A constant search for the absolute, toward a possible transcendence of the material nature of the support, in which it attains the lightness of the occupied space, is evident in the use of a metal surface, which, instead of conveying color, and, because of its intrinsic properties, reflects and enriches the color with various shadings and suggestions.
In his large black-and-white photographs of rationalist architecture as well, which are in appearance quite different from his paintings, the artist continually seeks a relationship with the space and an investigation of its internal structure.
Förg’s use of painting, which comes in part from the careful choice of the material nature of the support, recalls the great tradition of modern art, while the broad monochrome applications evoke above all paintings by Robert Ryman.
Ohne Titel (Bleibild) (Untitled–Lead Painting),1989, belongs to the “Bleibild” series, untitled paintings on lead of various shapes and dimensions, consisting of a lead support divided theoretically into three parts, in which the central portion is painted in broad yellow-green brushstrokes. Chosen for its chromatic qualities, the lead tends to absorb and capture light, establishing a dialogue and comparison with the liveliness of the paint. The calibrated equilibrium of the composition contrasts with the obvious gestural nature of the brushstroke, revealing the speed of its execution. This attention to leaving a trace of the rapid gesture underscores the artist’s interest in the process of the work’s creation, which goes beyond an apparent coldness and maintains an intuitive feeling. Utilized as an integral part of a process of opening up toward the space, in search of a possible third dimension within the strict confines of the two-dimensional surface, painting—although realized and conceived within the “limitations” of the most classical supports, such as canvas—remains one of Förg’s preferred mediums, because of its infinite expressive potential.
In two Ohne Titel (Untitled) canvases from 2006, the investigation of space is manifested through the use of a grid painted with rapid and vibrant brushstrokes. This not only refers to the tradition of early twentieth-century abstract painting but it also seems to suggest the rules of a preestablished compositional system. With the desire to force this “system,” Förg confers upon his paintings,, which are superficially simple, an obvious expressive richness, through the skillful use of color and the gestural quality of the brushstroke, which transcends the surface of the canvas. Whether they employ the chromatic suggestions of the chosen material or exploit the expressive potential of color, Günther Förg’s works evoke the idea of a spatial complexity that, sublimating the objectivity of the medium, allows all its expressive qualities to emerge, emotionally and empathetically involving the viewer.