'For Richter, the squeegee is the most important implement for integrating coincidence into his art. For years, he used it sparingly, but he came to appreciate how the structure of paint applied with a squeegee can never be completely controlled. It thus introduces a moment of surprise that often enables him to extricate himself from a creative dead-end, destroying a prior, unsatisfactory effort and opening the door to a fresh start' (D. Elger, Gerhard Richter: A Life in Painting, Chicago 2009, p. 251).
With its radioactive array of colours swept across the canvas in vivid kaleidoscopic striations, Grün-Blau-Rot is a spectacular example of Gerhard Richter's abstract practice. Infinite shades of sapphire blue, emerald green and fiery reds, blend, intermingle and collide, forming a hypnotic panorama of shimmering chromatic strata. Executed in 1993, during the finest period of Gerhard Richter's abstraction, the work is part of a series of 115 paintings executed in collaboration with Parkett Magazine. Applying paint directly from the tube along the border of his canvas, Richter pulls his pigments across the surface of his work with a squeegee: his signature tool since the 1980s. Painstakingly layering blue upon red over a base of vibrant green, the pigments fracture as they are spread across each preceding layer. In an instantaneous act of both revelation and concealment, the push and pull of the streaks embodies the encounter between chance effect and careful orchestration: a pivotal concept in Richter's work. Richter himself delights in the automatism of the squeegee, claiming 'It is a good technique for switching off thinking. Consciously, I can't calculate the result. But subconsciously, I can sense it. This is a nice "between" state' (G. Richter, quoted in S. Koldehoff, 'Gerhard Richter, Die Macht der Malerei', in Art. Das Kunstmagazin, December 1999, p. 20). With its rich palimpsest of prismatic pigment, Grün-Blau-Rot bears witness to Richter's celebration of the intrinsic properties of paint. As the artist explained, 'Abstract paintings are fictive models, because they make visible a reality that we can neither see nor describe, but whose existence we can postulate. We denote this reality in negative terms: the unknown, the incomprehensible, the infinite' (G. Richter, quoted in D. Elger, Gerhard Richter: A Life in Painting, Chicago 2009, p. 314).
Since 1986, when Richter first took a squeegee to his landscape portraits, the artist has explored the possibilities of abstract painting, establishing what is now regarded as one of contemporary art's landmark formal solutions. Widely recognised as one of the most important periods within Richter's abstract practice, the late 1980s and early 1990s saw the production of significant works including the celebrated Eis cycle of paintings (The Art Institute of Chicago), as well as important examples of his Abstraktes Bilder series, now housed in important collections including Tate, London, Kunsthalle Hamburg and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. The early 1990s were also a time of great professional triumph for Richter. His breakthrough retrospective was held at Tate Gallery, London, in 1991, while Documenta IX in 1992 saw the first major presentation of his work in Germany since the showing of 18 October 1977 in Krefeld in 1989. The influential touring retrospective Gerhard Richter: Malerei 1961-1993 opened in 1993, grouping together 130 works in a critically acclaimed exhibition that was to completely transform the artist's career.