The controversy of Ulrike Meinhof’s life and the violence of her experiences seems removed in Gerhard Richter’s dreamlike portraits of her – her image is fuzzy, almost peaceful even in her suicide. Between reality and representation, the duality and gray area of Meinhof and the RAF can be seen – activists or terrorists, visionaries or anarchists. In these paintings, the enigmatic nature of Meinhof’s true character is evoked by her blurry appearance and the lack of a clear or focused perspective in the paintings. The series seems to force the viewer to contemplate the movement within the moment depicted as opposed to stagnant snapshots, considering the full nuance of the situation instead of a simple staged perspective.
Richter’s portraits evoke a unique retelling of Meinhof’s experience – between idealized portraits of her as a movement’s leader or images of her mugshots as a wanted actor in a terrorist organization. The images depicted have a fluidity that seems to provoke the consideration of movement. One feels lost in the moment of the scene, deeply connected to the individuals portrayed. Meinhof appears utterly real through Richter’s portrayal – looking towards the camera with an almost accusatory stare, her body appearing dreamlike in stillness following her suicide.