The exhibition A.R. Penck retrospective on one of the most important German artists of the second half of the 20th century who died in Zurich in 2017.
On display 40 large-format paintings, 20 sculptures in bronze, cardboard and felt, as well as works on paper and artist’s books from private collections and the Michael Werner galleries in Berlin, Cologne and New York that interact in an original and daring way with the 13th century architecture of the San Giovanni complex, consisting of the hospice and convent of the Umili friars and later the Serviti friars, which houses the beautiful small art museum of the Ticino town.
A fil roug, that of the great retrospectives on artists of the twentieth century, which the Mendrisio Mudeo of art has been rolling out for some years and which places him among the leading museums of contemporary artistic research.
A complex research work that lasted two years and carried out by the curator of the Museum Simone Soldini and by the co-curator Barbara Paltenghi Malacrida together with Ulf Jensen, a great connoisseur of the work of A.R. Penck, has allowed to tell the main evolutionary stages of this significant exponent of the 70s and 80s of the 1900s who, together with a small group of artists and companions, Immendorf and Kiefer to name but a few, expressed the contradictions of the post Nazi in Germany and the East-West conflict through a very original expressive language that passes from painting, to sculpture, to philosophical and cybernetic sciences to get to music.
Born in Dresden in 1939, A.R. Penck, pseudonym of Ralf Winkler, is a witness to all the great, dramatic historical events of the 20th century, from the horrors of the war to the collapse of the Nazi regime, from the painful division of Germany, to the affirmation and failure of the socialist regime in East Germany, from construction to the destruction of the wall between East and West Berlin.
In a constant attempt to find the squaring of the circle between the great human and artistic contradictions, Penck pursues a solitary project with which the whole figurative universe of him is identified: the Stand Art
The mendrisiotta exhibition starts precisely from the Stand art and from its iconic representation of conceptual image, which explores the artist’s transitions and the possible suggestions that his work had on other artistic representatives of the same period such as Basquiat and Haring
Also of great importance is the exhibition catalog, the first document on Penckian art in Italian, which contains in its 320 pages unpublished photos of the artist, color plates on the pictorial and sculptural works, on the artist’s books and valuable essays on importance of the work of this multifaceted artist in the continuous search for a new language for universal dialogue capable of representing the choral world in a univocal perspective.
The path designed to bring children closer to Penck’s art is also innovative, through free educational activities for pupils in kindergarten, elementary and lower secondary schools.
A bet that the curators of the exhibition strongly desired, a sort of social experiment to evaluate how the clean and unprejudiced approach of the historical and cultural nature of children can directly approach the precious, rich and still partially unknown world of this great artist prematurely passed away