May 07 - July 19, 2003
galerie jerome de noirmont

exhibition release

From May 7 to July 19 2003, the Galerie Jérôme de Noirmont is pleased to present the Ereignisse im Unbekannten exhibition: 30 entirely new works on paper by A. R. Penck, painted with gouache and acrylic in a very vibrant palette. Three years after the Sur les Méthodes de la Peinture, an exhibition where he embarked on a dialogue with the philosophy of René Descartes, the great German artist now offers us magnificent illustrations of his proposed universal artistic language, a system of coding and communicating information, initiated from 1964 with the Standart2 concept.
Here, Penck presents us with his current questions on the frontier of the human mind, on the way in which man apprehends the Unknown. He scrutinises, takes apart and analyses what drives man forward, what pushes him to surpass himself.

On the evidence, the artist puts social and cultural manipulation of the individual at the source of the interactions and social and political frontiers between each of the sectors of the contemporary world. Penck covers the surface of his medium, here a sheet of paper, every last nook of it, to show the way in which the forms of modern communication, in particular the media, have become forces of manipulation. The artist highlights systems of thinking totally incorporated by the communal conscience and suggests alternatives, by confronting different visual logics within the same painting.

The themes addressed by Penck echo social circumstances and the difficulties with which the artist is and has been faced throughout his life. Thus one of Penck´s central themes today still remains identity and the quest for it, ensuing from alienation both imaginary and actual, solitude, isolation, which are integral parts of modern life and the collective or individual conscience.

Aware of influences on his artistic approach that can follow from his personal experience, the artist however devotes himself to a truly analytical investigation, ever close to Descartes, abandoning any idea of subjective romanticism, now only occupying himself with discovering and airing objective truths. This is because, for Penck, the artist´s approach should draw from that of the scientist, someone more interested by the discovery of objective truths than by the expression of personal truths.

Today, far, far from the time of the cold war when he portrayed extreme lucidity when faced with the dilemma of a divided Germany, Penck continues his investigation of new conflicts that mark our modern reality without in any way going back to the past. He builds his imaginary glossary with a view to giving a viable response to the emerging, changing complexities of modern life.
Similarly, Penck continually renews his analysis of the deepest feelings and currents that structure our life on a daily basis, the joys and fears of an ever tumultuous human existence. He thus palpably depicts the perplexity, trouble, harmonies and discords of human behaviour.

Often considered to be one of the major representatives of Neo-Expressionism, Penck structures and develops his pictorial language by expressively articulating figures and their body language. In his paintings, the artist uses signs, sometimes for their symbolic value, but primarily for their pictorial contribution, to give his compositions a very deliberate balance - or imbalance.

And still today, the Standart, Penck´s essential figure symbolising the human being, mid-way between a pictogram and a simple sketch, marks the paintings by its strength of expression. The result is an apparent "simplification" of the paintings, that is not the sign of regression to primitive artistic forms, but that marks the extraordinary yearning for clarification and the effectiveness of the artist in his pictorial story.

By expressing thus the complexity of feelings and human relationships in his own manner, Penck invites onlookers too to dive into the Unknown, thus to clarify their own values and aspirations, the anxieties that detract from the freedom of their feelings, themselves to find the solution to their alienations, both communal and personal.