Auction | China Guardian (HK) Auctions Co., Ltd.
2019 Autumn Auctions
Asian 20th Century and Contemporary Art

A. R. Penck (1939-2017)
Serie Uber Raum No.1(Painted in 1982)

Acrylic on canvas

146 x 114 cm.57 1/2 x 45 1/7 in.

1984,A.R. Penck: Painting and Drawing 1980-1982, Maeght Lelong, Zurich, P.22, Fig 19
27 Nov -18 Dec 1982, A.R. Penck, Sonnabend Gallery, New York
5 Apr – 1 May 1984, A.R. Penck: Paintings and Drawings 1980-1982, Maeght Lelong, Zurich
5 Sep – 5 Oct 1991, A.R. Penck, Salander O'Reilly Galleries, New York
17 Apr – 17 May 2008, A.R. Penck since the 1970s to the present, Gallery Sho, Tokyo

Salander-O'Reilly, New York
Galerie Michael Werner, Cologne
Important Private Collection, Asia

This work is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity issued by Michael Werner Gallery, Cologne
Note: A label of New York Salander-O'Reilly Galleries is affixed on the reverse

Exploring the Essence of Existence
The First Piece of Penck in Space Series in the 1980s

A. R. Penck is an unparalleled legend among post-war German artists. Despite his homeland and family being devastated by the War, he managed to come to terms with these miserable memories and stayed committed to his artistic career. In 1980, Penck moved to Cologne at West Germany to escape political repression and continue his creation. In 1982, the exhibition of Mulheimer Freiheit, a young artistic group, achieved great success in Cologne and reignited the passion of the art community for painting. With his unique artistic discourse and ideology, Penck shot to fame in this revolutionary and untrammelled environment. He was awarded the Rembrandt Prize by the Goethe Foundation in Basel and migrated to London in 1983. As his works were frequently featured at acclaimed exhibitions globally, he became a leading figure of the German Neo-Expressionist movement, producing a lasting imprint on the art history in the 1980s.

Pictographs That Embody Existentialism
“Human freedom precedes essence in man and makes it possible.”
—Jean-Paul Sartre

Inspired by Wittgenstein, who argued that “the limits of my language mean the limits of my world”, Penck deploys a lexicon of graphics and symbols to express his thoughts on the relationship between mankind and the outside world. He joined the Neue Wilde movement in the 1980s and incorporated the musical rhythm into his paintings thanks to his membership in the jazz group Triple Trip Touch. Such experience made the Space series his most iconic works in the 1980s. He presented his deliberation on how men are related to the surroundings and his persistent pursuit of modern spirit and ultimate truth by employing his signature technique, that is using visually striking pictograph-like marks, in Serie Uber Raum No.1 that was created in 1982.

As the first piece in the series, Serie Uber Raum No.1 does not feature bright colours that convey the excitement brought by the opportunities in the new era, but rather uses the black-and-white contrast to generate stunning visual effect. This approach shows the artist's rational assessment of the political landscape and deep concerns about individual life experience. In this painting, Penck's iconic stick figure stands off balance, resembling a flying bird. The square and triangle blocks at the bottom look like floating buildings, matching with the character and his surrounding dots and carrying the momentum towards a place with eternal freedom. Influenced by Sartre's existentialism, Penck stakes out the limits of his language through pictographs, which are dispersed in a random and unstable manner and thus create a space that allows free will and dictates the essence of men's existence. In this 1.5-meter-tall painting, the man supports the upper rim with one single hand like a giant. The black paint scattered over his body is like his sweat, adding to the strength of the figure. These dots are a vigorous language that expresses the artist's longing for freedom and his positive attitude. Penck kicked off the series with this piece, which qualifies as a totem of spiritual persistence, to demonstrate the mutually enhancing dynamics between men and the external world and his unwavering pursuit of freedom.

Price estimate:
HKD: 650,000 – 950,000
USD: 82,900 – 121,100

Auction Result:
HKD: 849,600



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