St. Bridget belongs to a group of four abstract paintings in horizontal format, known as the ‘The London Paintings’, which were exhibited at the Anthony d’Offay Gallery in the UK capital in 1988. The title of the piece—like those of the others in the series (St. James, St. John and St. Andrew) and that of the related work Sanctuary—refers to one of the chapels of Westminster Abbey. In any case, the title is not descriptive; it reflects the artist’s experiences, associations and memories of the city after a series of visits. As in many of Richter’s other abstract paintings, the image we see in this work emerges from the superposition of layers of paint in different colours. The paint is then pulled and smeared in an impersonal way, with short vertical and horizontal movements of the spatula that reveal bright spots and hidden colours. The end result resembles a landscape. It is almost Manetian, though the artist’s focus is not on the way light falls in nature—whether on water or plants. Rather, this work—like those in the group to which it belongs and other paintings by Richter, including those in the ‘Forest’ series (1990)—suggests the possibility of using painting to achieve images with metaphysical potential, and the ability of this art form to create ambiguous and metaphorical spaces of great beauty. St. Bridget is an abstract painting with a distant, objective finish, but it also develops ideas previously expressed in Annunciation after Titian, a triptych executed by Richter in 1973, with implications that clearly go beyond the metalinguistic.
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