Sigmar Polke's 1998 Untitled (Lapis-Lazuli) is a testament to the artist's love of experiment and abrupt stylistic change. For this recent work, Polke abandoned his ironic and mocking Pop images silk-screened on paper to paint an abstract exploration of the colour electric blue using the most unlikely combination of media: resin and tempera. Polke violently applies this most traditional of materials with large gestural brushstrokes in opposition to the carefully mapped precision painting of Renaissance frescoes that was its more habitual use. The thick, glassy layer of industrial resin on the surface counteracts the delicacy of the tempera and introduces a stridently modern finish. The resulting layers of a variety of translucent blue washes give the painting an eerie sense of a visionary apparition or hallucination.
'Polke's link with painting's history clearly goes far beyond iconography. The two "Lapis Lazuli" he made for the Nimes exhibition, using a blue pigment prized in the Renaissance, participate in the new deal he has effected at the heart of abstract painting, confusing our received ideas of abstraction by peopling his canvases with puddles and stains suspended between form and informe, with images in the process of becoming, disclosed in part or not at all according to each viewer's fantasy.' (Jean-Pierre Criqui 'Clothes make the canvas - works of artist Sigmar Polke', quoted in ArtForum, November 1994).