November 17 - January 13, 2001
galerie jerome de noirmont

exhibition release

Four years after the exhibition La Mort du Temps in autumn 1996, A.R. Penck has presented his new works within an exhibition entitled Sur les méthodes de la peinture from November 17, 2000 until January 13, 2001, extolling one of French greatest philosophers, René Descartes and his major work Le Discours de la Méthode, which foundations define the so typically French "Cartesian spirit". Through about fourty recent works, we will rediscover, beside this new philosophical research, the both typical symbolism and iconography of Penck.

A.R Penck is undoubtedly one of the most important living German artists, but paradoxically one of the most secret figures of the Neo-Expressionism. After a youth marked by destruction and chaos - he was traumatised by the global bombing of Dresden in 1944 and his childhood in the ruins - Penck´s painting lays down the existential axis in which he places himself: it is not a primitivism, nor a formalism. It does not fit in a nostalgic or idealistic perspective, since its ambition is to take in count the motions of life.

For this, the same way Descartes had built himself the foundations on which he could rely, so did Penck by pictorially building the foundations he had always lacked. Therefore, he created himself the bases of a universal artistic language, liberating from a political system of totalitarian and single thought. Thus, each elementary experience of his life produces an elementary symbol, comprehensible and imitable by everyone, opening the field of possibilities. In the core of the Cold War, to the systems facing each other militarily and ideologically, Penck, proudly opposed the frankness and the roughness of his own pictorial system. Between 1961 and 1964, Penck invented the Weltbild, the Systembild and the Standart, certainly the most advanced concepts of all his scientific, artistic and political researches.

Therefore it definitely exists in Penck a genuine "method" that intersects with the four precepts stated by Descartes. First of all, a deep calling into question of the foundations; then, the decomposition of the objects in particles, their division to reach out simplicity. Once the simplicity reached out, it becomes possible to go towards complexity through the multiplication of signs. The final step consists in insuring that the operation is complete and that nothing was left out for a rational and total comprehension. Diskussion mit R.D. über die Methoden (Discussion with R.D. on the methods) and Gespräch am Abend (Evening conversation), two big canvasses in which Penck represents himself with the author Le Discours de la Méthode, will make the break of the exhibition.

Another series of works dated of 1997 is devoted to Berlin, symbol of the Cold War and of the Reunification. The other exhibited canvasses, vividly and warmly coloured, synthesize Penck´s favorite inspiration sources, like Wall Art and wild animals: Mars, Mann, Schwarzer Löwe (Mars, man, black lion) ; the movement of signs and their interaction articulating the pictorial composition: Raumöffnung (Space opening) ; a codification of signs and a similar construction, common to several works: Begegnung, erstarrt (Encounter, freezes) and Vergleicht, erstarrt (Comparison, freezes).

The quality and the force of the exhibited works within the exhibition Sur les méthodes de la peinture has allowed many to rediscover A.R. Penck´s work, remarkable of modernity. It was an example to some of the greatest contemporary artists, particularly Keith Haring, whose Radiant Child (Baby) is directly inspired from his Standart, created as soon as 1964.

Penck is born in 1939 in Dresden. Lives and works in Dublin.