Rudolf Stingel

Rudolf Stingel’s art follows a conceptual and processual approach which reflects on essential questions of abstraction, decorative motifs, and the status of the image. Since the mid-noughties, Stingel’s self-portraits—based on photos—have conformed to a consistent principle that the artist is continually refining and extending. He starts with a picture taken by an eminent photographer—for example, Sam Samore for the series Untitled (After Sam)—or by an unknown. After enlarging the photograph to monumental proportions, he then paints a replica of the image. When one inspects the final product closely, one can discern every layer applied by the artist’s brush. The deep melancholia evident in these pictures stems not from the artist’s progressive ageing, but rather from the method Stingel employs to give palpable form to the feeling of futility and the fugitive quality of time. In Untitled (Alpino 1976) (2006), the signs of wear and tear in the crinkled, torn, creased, and stapled originals are rendered with the same degree of precision as the subject: Stingel, young and handsome, in his military ID photo. In Untitled (2012), the painting was laid out on the floor of his studio and, over a period of weeks, it was trodden on, abraded, and stained with paint. Although the object was not yet finished, it was already confronted with its inevitable deterioration.