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Wolfgang Petrick (1939, Berlin - Germany) lives and works between Berlin and New York.
From 1975 to 2007 he has been professor at Hochschule der Künste and a member of the Akademie der Künste in Berlin since 1993. In 1976 he was selected for Documenta 6, while in 1981 he’s been given the Deutscher Kritikerpreis.


In 1964 Petrick was one of the co-founders of the legendary exhibition group Großgörschen 35 and dedicated most of his works to social-critical themes. In 1972 he joined the group Aspekt to further the ideas of Kritischer Realismus. Since then the artist’s work, which includes painting, sculpture and book design, has progressed from an eccentric figuration with surrealistic leanings to a sophisticated compositional style with super realistic elements affiliated with Critical Realism, to an expressionistic figuration that echoes both Matthias Grünewald and Max Beckmann. Petrick’s figures are artificial creatures consumed with sadness and bitterness and it’s clear that the indecent ruins of their bodies refer to the decay of society, a leitmotiv in Adolph von Menzel’s work and quite an obsession for most of last century German painters such Beckmann, George Grosz and Otto Dix.

All the work of Wolfgang Petrick orbits around the fundamental theme of man, wounded offended, invaded by the factuality of the world, excluded from the communication in which living beings share the nakedness and frailty of their fallen state. The human figure doesn’t ever appear in its ideal or regular proportions, but undergoes the tensions of the forces which alter it. The image of the body is almost never whole, but ruined by signs of a variety of terribile wounds. Another process which the figure undergoes is that of metamorphosis, for which we find ourselves confronted by beings seen as if through distorted mirrors or hybrid figures, mutants, hermaphrodites, the most unlikely chimeras in which the aspect of the human being becomes masked or more precisely combined with that of the animal, the falcon, the wolf, the snake or the shark, representing a propulsive force. This fundamental ambivalente is manifested also when Petrick stages the transformation of man into an object, the grafting of the mechanical ad the human, the organic and the technological, which takes to the use of prosthesis and every kind of technological gadget.

In Petrick’s figures there is an element that enters in patent dissonance with their convulsive dynamism and the twisting and the alterations which deform their appearance: the gaze. In faces that are without expressions, like masks, the gaze is immobile, without pathos, turned towards an invisibile distance or seemingly turned inwards. In Petrick the internal gaze doesn’t lead to some liberation, but rather is a metaphor of the separation of the individual and the world. Petrick’s beings have nothing austere and heroic about them, while they are dismembered and beaten, they mantain a detached attitude, because they are at the same time actors and spectators of history and of disaster. With the growth of ranger so grows detachment and, althought we are involved in extreme danger, the only thing that can save us is our capacity of alienation.
 
 
 
Wolfgang Petrick - Selected Solo Exhibitions
 

2010

P(R)UNK, Sammlung Falckenberg, Phoenix Kulturstiftung, Hamburg (Germany)
  The Painting of Disaster, LipanjePuntin artecontemporanea, Trieste (Italy)

2008

Mutatio, Sara Asperger Gallery, Berlin (Germany)
  Wolfgang Petrick - Grafika, Galerie Litera, Prague (Czech Republic)

2007

Bilder und Zeichnungen 1965 - 1987, Galerie Eva Poll, Berlin (Germany)

2006

Good Slave, Bad Master, Galerie Michael Schultz, Berlin (Germany)

2004

Endmoräne II, pepperprojects, Berlin (Germany)
  Nestbau, Klostergalerie Zehdenick (Akademie), Berlin (Germany)

2003

Monrovia Mon Amour, Literaturhaus (mit Hans Christoph Buch), Berlin (Germany)
  Volkstanz, Künstlerhaus, Bethanien (Germany)
  Volkstanz, Galerie Dieda / Art Bug, Bassano del Grappa, Belluno (Italy)

2002

Volkstanz, Farrel-Pollack Fine Art, New York (USA)

2001

Batterie 2, Villa Haiss Museum Zeitgenössische Kunst, Zell a. h (Germany)

2000

Sehen und Denken 8, Akademie der Künste, Berlin (Germany)

1999

Glashaus, Galerie Inga Kondeyne, Berlin (Germany)
  Malerei & Material, Haus am Lützowplatz, Berlin (Germany)

1997

Galerie Inga Kondeyne, Berlin (Italy)

1996

Vizivárosi Galéria, Budapest (Hungary)

1995

Narziß, Galerie Raab, Berlin (Germany)
  Druckgrafik der 60er bis 90er Jahre, Pepper + Patzschke, Berlin (Germany)

1994

Fest III "Kunst und Gewalt", Dresden Hellerau, Dresden (Germany)

1992

Galerie Asperger, Strasbourg (Germany)

1990

Kunsthalle Hamburg und Kampnagel Fabrik, Hamburg (Italy)
 
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