With its lattice of horizontal and vertical lines rendered in powerful, single brushstrokes of black, blue and green, Günther Förg’s Untitled (2005) possesses an architectural grandeur that seems to physically surround the viewer in its huge scale and unexpected depth. A superb example of Förg’s Gitterbilder, or ‘grid paintings’, the work perfectly exemplifies the artist’s ability to build and explore spaces on the canvas; expertly measuring the presence of line against its absence, the intersecting bars of the grid generate a patchwork of window and net forms that seem to expand and contract the space contained behind them, creating a sensation that develops across the canvas from cramped confinement at the work’s edges to fields of liberated open space at its centre. This complex arrangement of space is supplemented by Förg’s delicate, considered use of colour. Against a background filled by a subtly modifying yellow, with pockets of sunny radiance deepening the tranquil, sandy tone spreading across the canvas, clouds of blurred blue pigment further alter our sense of the space, creating an uncertain translucence, while a verdant green curves through the bottom left of the canvas. Over these shifting tones, Förg overlays forceful, stark lines, reacting against the beguiling haze of tone beneath and giving a rich, clear definition to the work’s surface.
Building these interacting fields of depth while achieving such a vigorousness of line and brilliancy of colour, Förg’s work reflects conceptual principles that historically underpinned his art – a formal purism, the sense of the artwork as object, and an architectural interest in space, both real and illusory. Förg is on the one hand interested in reminding us of the work’s objective existence, the gestural, even visceral brushstrokes drawing attention to the process of its own painting and reminding us of its physical reality as a worked object and artefact. Yet, enveloping the viewer in the fabric of its lines, the grid also conjures a pictorial, illusory sense of space; the translucent, shifting tones suggest depth but fail to completely define it it. In its sensitive treatment of forms and marks, Untitled transports us between the imagined spaces of painting, and the real, corporeal presence of an artwork as it exists in the flesh.