Exploding the senses with its glorious colours, Extrem Beginnung (Extreme Beginning) is a vast, vibrant painting deriving from this crucial period around the turn of the millenium when Daniel Richter's art transformed from his early musings on abstraction, to his fully formed 'figurative abstraction'. Indeed, it is one that, in both its title and subject matter, seems almost to mark the genesis of Richter's new approach to painting, through the depiction of a gang of near psychedelic and zombie-like revellers slowly emerging from the waves of a calm and colourful abstract sea.
Such throngs of electrified humans enervated and distinguished by glorious patterned colour, appear in several of Richter's most important works of this period. In almost all these works these shimmering and colourful figures, strangely skeletal and reminiscent of those seen through night-vision goggles, have something otherworldly about them - a mutant, post-millennial or post-apocalyptic humanity - vibrantly contrasted against the night.
Having worked in the studio of Albert Oehlen during the 1990s, Richter transformed Oehlen's anti-painterly aesthetic into an art of sumptuous and colourful abstract overload. His great friendship with Peter Doig, and admiration for his work, encouraged him to search for greater depth in the variety of painterly processes which he was so adept at producing. Around the turn of the millenium, the complex, lurid and flowing abstract forms of Richter's paintings suddenly seemed to materialise into powerful figurative images of another world.
The figures that inhabit the paintings of this period are vessels for abstraction. Forged out of a myriad of abstract painterly processes that Richter also encourages to maintain their own autonomy as painted marks on the canvas surface, these figures hover between a collective abstraction and figurative individuality, serving to prove his claim that, ultimately, theres no difference between abstract and figurative painting - apart from the decidability of certain forms. The problems of how to organize colours on a surface never really change. The same method is there either way, slipping in through the various forms. (Daniel Richter, cited in 'Letzlich gibt es keinen Unterschied zwischen abstrakten und der figurativen Malerie - ein grespach mit Jens Rönnau' in Kunstforum, no. 168. Jan 2004 p. 263).