Before Ralf Winkler, a.k.a. A.R. Penck, goes west, he remains largely unknown to the public. In Dresden he is a self-taught drummer, filmmaker, painter, graphic artist, musician and writer. He is denied entrance to the academies of the GDR or a membership in the Association of Visual Artists. His art, which alternates between abstraction and figuration, does not correspond to the aesthetic ideal of socialist realism.
But in the West, his paintings are celebrated even before he moves to the Federal Republic of Germany in 1980. In 1968, Michael Werner, later his gallerist, organizes a first solo exhibition in a Cologne gallery; in 1971, Haus Lange in Krefeld is the first museum to present a solo show; in 1972, he takes part in the documenta for the first time. His paintings, and the bronzes created from 1982 on, are finally shown worldwide in galleries and museums. Penck, who was already acquainted with Georg Baselitz in the GDR, meets Joseph Beuys, Jörg Immendorff, Markus Lüpertz and Per Kirkeby in the West, with whom he develops friendships. He is one of the most important painters to promote the renewal of painting in Germany while constantly staying true to himself as well as his aesthetics that were already forthcoming in Dresden: clear lines, pictogram-like shapes, stick figures on canvases that sometimes take on enormous proportions. Current events, universal themes as well as personal experiences find their way into his concise and unprecedented pictorial world. In spring 2017, A. R. Penck died in Zurich at the age of 77.
Galerie Michael Haas is showing numerous important, partially monumental paintings and bronze sculptures from the 1970s, 80s and 90s.