Rudolf Stingel's practice is not about painting, with the latter constituting a medium. Nor can it be considered painting for the sake of painting, or self-mocking painting, either. Stingel's art is a celebration of the derma, the surface's skin, where each one of us leaves our mark in the everyday. It is an art born out of the frustration that painting can never be finite, but that it needs to be understood as a process which can never produce 'one', but only infinite numbers of creation that bear testimony to the ideal of painting existing altogether. Accordingly, the curator and critic Francesco Bonami describes Stingel's work as something that can not be seen disconnectedly from its entire oeuvre. A painting, self-sufficiently, is useless, "like a cell of our tissue is useless if taken as an autonomous being. It is in the connection between each cell or in between each painting that meaning can be produced" (F. Bonami, (ed.), "Painting of Paintings for Paintings", in Rudolf Stingel, exh. cat., Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art, 2007, p. 16).
In order to realise this ideology, Stingel has explored various means of expanding and critiquing the category of painting over the past twenty years. In his installations, he has created silver celotex walls that invite the viewer to scrawl over the surface, indirectly 'completing' the artist's work. In other instances, he transforms shag carpets into grand echoes of colour field paintings. He challenges the process of creating a painting and questions the concept of the canvas and that of authorship. One of the earliest examples of this methodology are Stingel's silver paintings, of which Untitled, 1998, is an example. In 1989, the artist published a small booklet that contained step-by-step instructions on how to produce the former. Bonami points out that the idea of instructions "were tricking you into learning how to do a painting for someone else", and were therewith supporting Stingel's methodology (ibid., 2007, p. 18).
The works begin with the application of a thick layer of paint in a particular colour, in the case of the present example silver enamel, to the canvas. Pieces of gauze are then placed over the surface of the canvas and silver paint is added using a spray gun. Finally, the gauze is removed, resulting in a richly textured surface. When seen in conjunction with the DIY manual, the Warholian nature of Stingel's work is difficult to refute: technical methods of factory like production, which are openly communicated and question authorship, contrast the provoked coincidences that result in individual monotypes. Particularly, a parallel to Warhol's so-called Piss Paintings comes to mind: both artists test the methods of what can be considered painting, while simultaneously emphasising the carnality of the practice by combining coincidence and will in a process solely focused on the canvas's skin. With Stingel's works, the aggravation of the derma creates the rapture.