Gavin Turk’s Reimagining of Richter

Daniel Barnes for Trebuchet
Brooding, tranquil, balancing between stillness and gesture, Gavin Turk’s Kerze reimagines a series of paintings by Gerhard Richter with an existential twist, at the same time as continuing Turk’s lifelong project to vanquish the myth of authorship.

In usual Turk fashion, the paintings in his latest solo show at Ben Brown Fine Arts look innocuous enough on the surface: simple, elegant still lifes of recently extinguished candles copied, but not really copied at all, from Richter. He certainly entertained the idea of making outright copies, but reality kicked in and creativity took over: “I started by really looking hard and…I think my original idea was I was going to try and copy them but, quite quickly, I just started making it up”. Turk’s candles are not exact copies, they rather replicate the form, style and motif of Richter’s original Kerze series, so they are copies without originals, ending up with a richer, more innovative simulacrum of Richter. It de-mythologises Richter as the uber-artist by demonstrating that his work can be replicated without loss of affect and without any trace of his hand.

November 22, 2022