Everything Old is New Again -or through a wall, darkly...
Born at during the start of the Nazi Blitzkrieg in Dresden, Germany - a small post-imperial town outside Berlin in what later became the DDR (or East Germany), Penck (then known as Ralf Winkler) and his Dresdener colleague Jörg Immendorff were forced to deal with the consciousness (east-west) that resulted from the war and the 'trennung' or 'split' between the former Germany and the especially hard time his coming of age brought during the partitioning of Germany (and Berlin) into it's Russian, American, British and 'German' components. Both Penck and Immendorff found celebrity during the late 70s locally and the early 80s internationally with the introduction of their rough voices and characteristically impasto gesturing. These voices were complemented by the ancillary visions of Anselm Kiefer and Joseph Beuys - their West German compatriots - who provided a very interesting reference in the controlled experiment of an artistic output from a now-schizophrenic Germany. Interestingly, despite being raised in relative privelege (and then some!), their visions were deeply compatible with Penck's.
His work can be seen as a direct emotional and psychic reaction to the chaotic world created by the birth of the Demokratisches Deutches Republik (DDR) and the misery found there (see also: Berlin Alexanderplatz). Art Brut for the collective mind of the DDR perhaps. But still (or perhaps necessarily) the work received a lot of attention from West Germany. Penck participated in exhibitions in the 'free' West as a result. The imagery conjures the psyches the much-earlier Kathe Kollwitz but also of Asger Jorn and the Neoprimitivist explorations of the pre-Surrealists (Breton, et. al.). Such questions, while psycho-cultural in nature are also interesting to pose (i.e. - 'what role does such 'primitive' imagery play in under the hegemony of brutal political rule and 'difficult times'?). Nonetheless, Penck, Immendorff and other compatriots forged their imagery into a bona fide East German stance or submovement that demanded to be seen and heard.
to be continued...Early Works
iPhone connection widget functionality pending launch