Acrylic on canvas, triptych, photograph, sound

197.5 x 135.5 cm (77 3/4 x 53 3/8 in.) (each) Photograph: 31 x 24 x 4 cm (12 3/16 x 9 7/16 x 1 9/16 in.)

4875812, 4875813, 4875814,… That’s how the careful observer could count by approaching 4875812-4932016 and discovering much more than three glossy grey surfaces. Because the white, brilliant effects are not the product of a random pictorial work: a multitude of figures saturate the canvases, covered with a painstaking sequence of numbers.

This surprising triptych is a detail of the project Opalka 1965/1 - ∞, a work comprising 233 paintings. Starting with number 1, Opalka painted every day a sequence of consecutive numbers in white acrylic. Once at the end of a canvas, he continued his count on a same size canvas, to infinity: starting this obsessive project at age 34, Roman Opalka continued working on it throughout his life until his death, in 2011.

The detail of a unique work whose intention was to capture the elusive passage of time, the three canvases 4875812-4932016 by Roman Opalka belong to the Pinault Collection. The paintings were first shown at the “Prima Materia” (“Raw Material”) exhibition at the Punta della Dogana.