(New York, USA)
Mendes Wood’s space in New York Hic Svnt Dracones inaugurated earlier this week the exhibition “Sonia Gomes and A.R. Penck”, in which the two iconic artists explore mixed media with an emphasis on fabric-based works, aluminum foil and wood. While Penck explores new systems of spatial relationships in his color-coded constellations of felt, constructing new biomorphic bodies, Gomes’ – who was nominated for PIPA Prize on two occasions, 2012 and 2016 – approach is more poetic. Her sculptures reveal a new-found intimacy and sensuality through her artistic interventions with found and gifted objects. Both ideological outsiders – Penck between East and West Germany; Gomes between the cultural and racial North and South Americas – describe their practices as set in search of a universal syntax.
Famous for developing a pictorial vocabulary deriving from language, mathematics, cybernetics, information systems and behavioral theories named “Standart”, A. R. Penck (whose real name was Ralf Winkler) began his sculptural explorations in felt in the 1970s. The concept of “Standart” was at the time widened as to encompass his latest creations, being defined as “a kind of conceptual art” or, as he explained in retrospect, “Standart = concept, plan, strategy.” This complex dialectic is nowhere more evident than in Penck’s felt works, which occupy a curious place in the artist’s already expansive oeuvre. Here, the seemingly primitive signs and symbols characteristic of Penck’s paintings are transformed into something gentler; unmodulated primary colors, clarity of form and a material softness bring them alive.
Sonia Gomes, born in 1948 and raised in Caetanópolis, the heartland of the Brazilian textile industry, assumed her art practice full-time at the age of 45. As an artist, she defies easy classification – her lines and forms are not orientated toward self-narration but toward symbolic freedom, life and exhilaration. Using found or donated materials that have fallen into disuse, Gomes creates eclectic, multi-colored fabric works that simultaneously evoke the idea of the visceral and the sacred. With the sculptures on view, Gomes explores memory and life through her re-appropriation of the “dead”, discarded or forgotten objects that she encounters. From dresses to nightgowns, wedding invitations, or decades-old books, Gomes eloquently navigates these fault lines of affect and memory, intuitively making and revealing their arrangements.
Throughout the exhibition, the compulsion to match thought to form is acutely present, and, akin to ancient art, the works on view create models to represent the world. Sonia Gomes and A.R. Penck offers visitors multiple perspectives with which to examine a significant body of work by both artists.
“Sonia Gomes and A.R. Penck”
On view from May 2nd to June 29th
Hic Svnt Dracones
60 East 66th Street, 2nd Floor
Working hours: tue – sat, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
T: +1 212 220 9943