Painted in 1991, Abstraktes Bild is a colourful and textured painting whose appearance belies its intellectual content. For Abstraktes Bild forms an intrinsic part of Richter's dialogue about the nature of art and the artist. This is especially evident in the process by which Abstraktes Bild was made, which is as deconstructive as it is creative. Richter smears over elements which threaten to appear figurative, and deliberately and clinically disrupts the internal aesthetics of the works. In Abstraktes Bild, the marks of the squeegees are clear on the canvas: Richter has not used the traditional brush, but has instead dragged the paint with the tools of a mere decorator. Alongside this deconstruction of the role and the glory of the artist, alongside this deliberate mockery of the visual language of Action Painting and all the autobiographical venting that it implies, is an inherent love of paint and of colour. Richter paints other types of picture, but for him the Abstracts are a joy, a source of guiltless solace and release in which he plays with paint.
Richter has said of his abstract paintings, that while essentially they remain anomalies, "it is untrue that I have nothing specific in mind". For Richter abstract paintings offer the best means with which to express and approximate a sense of the truly unfathomable nature of reality. "In abstract painting", he has written, "we have found a better way of gaining access to the unvisualizable, the incomprehensible; because abstract painting deploys the utmost visual immediacy - all the resources of art in fact - in order to depict "nothing". Accustomed to pictures in which we recognise something real, we rightly refuse to regard mere colour (however multifarious) as the thing visualised. Instead we accept that we are seeing the unvisualisable: that which has never been seen before and is not visible. This is not some abstruse game but a matter of sheer necessity: the unknown simultaneously alarms us and fills us with hope, and so we accept the pictures as a possible way to make the inexplicable more explicable, or at all events, more accessible". (Gerhard Richter: 'Text for the catalogue of documenta 7, Kassel 1982. reprinted in Gerhard Richter: Painting London, 1988 p. 100).
Richter's abstract paintings are a physical and painterly manifestation of the artist's belief in art as mankind's "highest form of hope". They are paintings that adhere to no known logic or ideology but are created through a careful cumulative and constructive process during which Richter deliberately avoids all conventional rules of aesthetics in order to arrive at work that belies pictorial ideology. "I can... see my abstracts as metaphors," Richter has said; they are "pictures that are about a possibility of coexistence. Looked at in this way, all that I am trying to do in each picture is to bring together the most disparate and mutually contradictory elements, alive and viable, in the greatest possible freedom. No Paradises." (G. Richter in an interview with Benjamin Buchloh, 1986, reprinted in: Gerhard Richter. Writings 1962 -93, p.166.)
Seeking to generate "a pictorial quality that the intelligence cannot fabricate," Richter attempts to convey a sense of possibility, of hope even, through the creation of these impossible painterly conglomerations of abstract form and colour. The very fact that he is still painting these kind of pictures is of course, in itself also a statement of hope, but he evades any sense of sentiment or ideology by ensuring that each mark he makes on the canvas is unique and independent from the other. The construction of these paintings is a continuously willed process of the avoidance of slipping into any pattern of repetition or system with the conscious aim of creating a cohesive unity out of the elements' own disparity and non-cohesiveness.