PRINT November 1981

A Note on A.R. Penck

Today a neo-Mannerist tension is apparent, a sort of anti-Classical revolt against the definition and the monolithism manifest in the reductivism and structuralism which were typical of the last decade. Visual writing is tending toward dissolved, contorted forms, eccentric configurations, and color. We are witnessing the break-down of all equilibriums in favor of a deformation which tolerates disorder, incoherence, ambiguity, and confusion as working methods for systems of analysis.

Alone, theory is not sufficient to analyze this expanding excursion into disintegration. We need the blinding flashes that result from the interaction of criticism, poetry, and art. This is how to read the project that traverses the following pages. It is at once theory, art, and poetry, in which the artist’s vision takes its revenge by presenting its own “essay.” Penck’s imagery allows him to revise the linearity and harmony of the vision of Western writing that is buried under pillars of constructions and deconstructions. (His move from East to West Germany has also facilitated this.) It disorients unreal, empty formulas and its “primitiveness” instills disturbing, surprising images. The sense of crisis which creates disorder returns art, through both formulation and description, to the real world of practice that, according to Althusser, is also the world of theory.

Germano Celant