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AR Penck

Der Schritt (The footstep), 1993

Oil on canvas
200 x 300cm
About AR Penck
Ralf Winkler, alias A R Penck, was a Neo-Expressionist painter who created vibrant, graphic works populated with a rich lexicon of neo-primitive symbols, stick figures and patterns. Born in 1939, Winkler grew up in the GDR or East Germany. He was artistic from a young age but was reputedly discarded and monitored by the Association of Visual Artists of the GDR and by the East German government for refusing to make work which heralded their political ideology. A recurring motif within his paintings for example, was the figures labelled ‘A’ and ‘B’, who were continually separated by bold linework, mimicking the ostracising and destructive fallout of the Berlin Wall. Adopting the moniker A R Penck, he began to show his work in West Berlin, boldly communicating his disavowal of Germany's internal borders. On 3 August 1980, he moved to West Germany. After emigrating, Penck became one of the foremost exponents of new figuration, alongside Jörg Immendorff, Georg Baselitz and Markus Lüpertz. Penck also experimented with printing and sculpture, incorporating everyday materials such as cardboard boxes, wood and used bottles into his pictorial language. After achieving widespread success in the 1980s, his works began to be re-appraised in the 2000s, being understood as integral to the history of 20th century painting. Penck’s work undoubtedly nods towards the aesthetic qualities of German Expressionism and Art Brut, yet his distinctive register emphatically digests the experience of the Cold War and remains pivotal within Modern art today.