Ralf Winkler Penck

Ralf Winkler Penck

Once again, and all that are provided, as we walk through the walls and easels of our Gallery, works emerge that remind us of names, currents, schools, styles and trends that we focus on.

Today, the German Penck (Ralf Winkler), born in the mythical and martyred city of Dresden, is our chosen one. We have him between us and let's talk a little about him.

Who is it? What represents? Where does it take us?

Let us open the door to say that Penck is a man of seven trades : he paints, sculpts, designs, prints, engraves, organizes performances in which he combines music and plastic expression and is a very skilled jazz drummer.

He was born, as we have seen, in Dresden, capital of ancient and prosperous Saxony. City of artistic traditions, among others, of dense cultural past, stage of multiform aesthetic movements, and … theater of war (destroyed by 90% by the RAF and USAF in February 1945), of political struggles, object of the “sharing” of the Germany after its “liberation” by the Soviet Army and victim of the looting that only ended with the dissolution of the colony of the USSR euphemistically called the “German Democratic Republic”.

Penck, as a fine arts student, joined the group of “neo-expressionist” painters, later joining the “neo figurationists” among whom stood out Markus Lupertz (b.1941), Jorg Immendorff (1945-2007) and Georg Baselitz (b. 1938).

Living in a repressive environment, the hallmark of the communist regime then in force in his homeland, Penck, as well as his colleagues, was the target of constant “democratic surveillance” (read political persecution) by the STASI (Ministerium für Staatssicherheit). The label of dissident hung over him… Truth: he was a dissident! Circumstance in which in the Federal Republic of Germany, despite all the obstacles of the totalitarian “GDR”, his works became known and in this way recognized in Western Europe as one of the most prominent exponents of the repressed freedom of expression in the East.

In Berlin (West), in the late 1970s and during the following decade, his works were exhibited after indescribable and cunning ways to get them out of Dresden. From this time, the exhibition “ZEITGEIST” (Spirit of Time) stands out, held at the “Martin Gropius Bau Museum”, rebuilt in 1978, reopened in 1981, curiously located in the Mitte district, a few meters from the western border of divided Berlin. This exhibition was followed by the “Art Show” organized in 1983 by “Tate Britain” in London and later in New York.

Penck had managed to pass the “iron curtain” (so called by Sir Winston Churchill) and become known worldwide.

At the heart of this recognition is the use of a pictography which the critics designated as containing a “neo-primitivist and totemic view of the human form”. In fact, the same emphasis was, and is, attributed to his sculptural (little publicized) and pictorial works, qualified as patenting an "anti-art aesthetic", mindful of the "rough use and assembly" made with various materials such as wood, cans, cardboard boxes and wires, understood as a search for an “anthropomorphy of symbolisms”.

Some analysts maintain that Penck was heavily influenced by Paul Klee (1878-1940) and Jackson Pollock (1912-1956). However, we do not know Penck's opinion about those who have opinions about his work.

In addition to being, as we said, “a man of the seven trades”, Penck is also a kind of nomad as he lives and works in Berlin, Dublin, Dusseldorf or New York.

Finally, and “en passant”, Penk, a jazz musician, is linked to the “Triple Trip Touch” (TTT), the “free jazz” ensemble of which he was one of the founders. He played with great names in the European and American jazz scene and promoted meetings between musicians and plastic artists in his country house in Heimbach.


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