Untitled (4.5.86) is an important painting on paper from a series of six, created on six consecutive days, from 1 May through 6 May 1986. In terms of scale and execution, these works are the most ambitious works on paper in Richter's ouevre, possessing an energy and impasto that the artist generally reserves for his major canvases.
Untitled (4.5.86) combines Gerhard Richter's use of tools, such as a large spatula with vivid hand-painted brushstrokes and expressive pencil lines, setting up a formal dialogue between mechanical processes and the artist's hand. In contrast to Richter's photo-based pictures, which essentially conceal the artist's touch, Untitled (4.5.86) shows the artist's relationship to Asbtract Expressionism and his willingness to indulge in sensuous painterly gesture.
Richter's characteristic technique of building his abstractions by the thick application, as well as partial erasure of paint layers, becomes a metaphor for the artist's evaluation of nature's cycle of creation and destruction. This idea is enhanced through the intensity of Richter's rich color palette, which in Untitled (4.5.86) ranges from more somber shades of purple and brown, luminous citron yellows and neon shades of red. According to Richter, his abstract works are models and metaphors, "pictures that are about a possibility of social coexistence". He states: "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" (Gerhard Richter as quoted in B. Buchloh, 1986, Richter; Text, Schriften und Interviews, Frankfurt, 1993).