Roman Opalka (1931-2011)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more
Roman Opalka (1931-2011)

1965/1 - 8 DETAIL – 2430581-2450736

Roman Opalka (1931-2011)
1965/1 - 8 DETAIL – 2430581-2450736
signed, titled and dated 'OPALKA 1965/1 - 8 DETAIL – 2430581-2450736’ (on the reverse)
signed, titled and dated ‘Opalka 1965/1 – oo/ Detail 24300581 – 2450736’
77¼ x 53¼ in. (196 x 135 cm.)
Executed in 1965
John Weber Gallery, New York.
Sammlung Goetz Collection, Munich (acquired from
the above in 1997).
Acquired from the above by the present owner.
Special notice

Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.

Brought to you by

Alessandro Diotallevi
Alessandro Diotallevi

Lot Essay

Opalka is a great artist whose work we would have wished to acquire for a long time, ever since our mind had opened to the gathering of different experiences, and we achieved a greater willingness to look at art with fresh eyes. The discovery of what is different can be an important conquest for individual growth. We were very struck by this artist who spends his life writing numbers with his paint brush, one canvas after another, without a pre-established end other than death or his physical inability to continue the work (which is the same thing: the "death" of the artist). This obsessive perseverance in counting, this daily journey through his own thoughts continuously translating them into progressive numbers; this courage and obstinacy in an infinite journey of numbers, behind and in front of him. Opalka has not only astonished us, but has also unsettled us. The first question I asked myself in front of one of his canvases was, if by any chance, his was a way of marking the rhythm of time.
Then, when I discovered that, on the completion of each canvas, Opalka takes a photograph of himself with the self-timer, to record the time passed on him as manartist, I understood. Or perhaps I thought I understood, but my intuition about time made me feel the urgency of possessing one of his incredible canvases.
It is difficult to fathom the depth of thought that is so obsessive, convoluted, intransigent, verging on asceticism. "To measure oneself" with one of his canvases is an unforgettable experience: even with a magnifying glass, what harmony, what rhythm can apparently be so perfect?
Almost as though the human creator of the work had not even had the chance to breathe, for the rigour he imposed on himself. A harmony that has become abstract painting, an astonishing cosmos to explore, beyond space and time. Many years after the acquisition, we think that it is the majestic work of a mad poet, who wants to measure himself and his physical resistance against time. Perhaps even against himself: the work implies an incredible, rigorous discipline. And his "theatre" is a "non place".
Our painting has an important provenance: the Goetz Collection in Munich. When we received the canvas it was a moment of great emotion, also because of the way in which the work was delivered: perfect, intact, kept until then with great care. Even from the packing you could discern the wish to preserve what is precious to an artist and to a collector. We were enormously appreciative of this great German collector for the love shown to this work now in our hands. The works can become a slender thread between people who do not know each other, but who "recognise each other", through their way of respecting and loving art.
A final note on our Opalka in order to celebrate it adequately. The strangest thing is that it attracts absolutely everyone: from the most sophisticated collectors who appreciate him, to the friends who are not at all interested in art, but who stop in front of the painting and, intrigued, ask questions; to children who want to be picked up to look at it closely. I don't know what this might mean. The only possible answer, for me, is that the artist impresses into his canvases something special, which, from his inner space, is emitted to us, children included. What might Opalka make of my reflection?

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