Sigmar Polke

Music from an Unknown Source

15 December 2007 - 2 March 2008

Sigmar Polke was born in East Germany in 1941 and studied in Düsseldorf under Joseph Beuys. Considered one of the most important figures in German art, Polke first gained notoriety in 1963 alongside Gerhard Richter with the concept of ‘Capitalist Realism’, an ironic and cynical take on the slick style of the American Pop art movement and a comment on the Western capitalist dream.

Music from an Unknown Source brings together a series of 40 gouaches, all from 1996. They give us an insight into Polke’s diverse and experimental practice and the motifs, irony, eclecticism and playfulness of his artistic oeuvre. In these works Polke continues what has been a central concern since the 1960s - the ability and inability of a picture, and art, to represent reality. Polke takes a distanced and ironical position that enables him to turn his attention – above and beyond issues of content – to the form and material nature of painting.

Polke makes the drip and flow of the paint his theme as controlled and uncontrolled techniques are explored and combined in playful ways. Over the flow of paint, the artist often lays, by hand, a regular pattern of dots that refer to the gridded raster dots that are the basis of television images and commercial halftone printing. Moreover, Polke gives each painting a seemingly random and absurd title that prompts us to guess at connections and ponder the limits of perception.

This exhibition was conceived by the Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen/Institute for Cultural Relations and is presented in cooperation with the Goethe-Institut New Zealand.

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