Juno is made up of multiple layers of vibrant red, orange, yellow, green and blue, and most viewers see it as unveiling a hitherto unknown reality that is mysterious and beautiful. Much of the paintwork suggests free handling, but hard-edged geometric shapes and delicate effects indicate a high level of control. Earlier workings with brush and squeegee may have been aggressive, but at later stages the artist dragged a big plastic spatula loaded with paint across the picture’s surface to produce intricate streaking. They are not quick or careless draggings but precise and deliberate, avoiding any suggestion of personal brushwork, and smoothing over earlier disparities. The effect is of shimmering harmony over the top of mysterious depths.
It is rewarding to oscillate between close-up and more distant viewings of this work. Gerhard Richter himself experiments with scale, blowing up small watercolours into big paintings, and photographing a picture from different positions, undermining the idea of one defining viewpoint. Juno, as well as being a Roman goddess, is alternative version of the German name for the month of June. The brightness and heat of the northern summer may be referred to in the artist’s choice of colours.
Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2010
From: Ron Radford (ed), Collection highlights: National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2008