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COLOGNE.- Galerie Karsten Greve is presenting the exhibition Norbert Prangenberg – Sculpture, which – after a 2012 monographic show in its Cologne gallery space – places its focus on the artists’ sculptural oeuvre, prominently featuring Prangenberg’s large-scale ceramic works known as Figuren. 

Norbert Prangenberg began exploring artistic possibilities in a spatial context through sculpture in the 1980s, maintaining an ever-present and close connection with drawing and painting as modes of expression. With both his training as a goldsmith as well as his time spent drafting designs for glassworks constituting the foundation of his artistic approach, Prangenberg’s artisanal background imbued all of his works with an inherent interdisciplinary practice. 

It is for this reason that works on paper, dating from 1965, already bear semblances of sculpture, testifying to the concrete reality of an act of shaping, of converting matter into form. Proceeding from only a schematic outline or draft, which surfaces as a direct fixation of an idea during the process of conceiving the construction of an object, for Prangenberg the notion of drawing always includes the aspect of realization. Expressing genuine creative action, it becomes representative of a universal concept, which applies equally to all media. Drawing, painting, sculpture and printmaking amalgamate in his artistic output, making assignation to a distinct medium obsolete. Prangenberg himself refers to his three-dimensional works as Figuren, while drawings and paintings are simply named Bilder. 

All of Norbert Prangenberg’s works imply the close interrelation of art and artisanal craftsmanship and the consequent permeability of the different media. This holistic approach is most apparent in the current presentation’s interaction of Figuren and Bilder, where the Figuren are informed by painterly ambitions, simultaneously rendering themselves as both sculptural paintings as well as painterly sculptures. 

Prangenberg’s vocabulary is generated by an uninhibited creative impulse, founded in the artist´s deep attachment to material issues. Primary geometric shapes such as circle, diamond, triangle, oval and square are the building blocks that through continual repetition and spatial variation reappear as an orb, polyhedron, pyramid and cube, representing a corporeal presence in a space. In Prangenberg’s universe figures originate, “whose spatial properties are to be reconstructed over and over again”. (T.Schmidt-Wulffen). 

Prangenberg molds his sculptures from clay, making no attempt to conceal the earthen, primeval quality of the material. Large upright and reclined hollow bodies – their basic form recalling archaic amphorae –, may be therefore understood as the result of a creative process whose formal decisions are based on given material circumstances. Akin to the outcome of an eruption, bulbous, porous walls covered in rhythmical eversions and protuberances become manifest in the artist’s Figuren. Appearing to result from the elements’ fiery discharge these outbursts often assume a decorative appearance, resembling floral traits. Scratches, perforations and cuts structure the rough, chapped surface, treated with colour and glaze. During the process the colour composition takes on a life of its own as it from time to time detaches itself from the sculpture, prompting the vividly hued skin of the expansive figures to become the connective tissue between sculpture and painting. Prangenberg’s enduring interest for material possibilities and productive concerns is reflected in his collaboration with master ceramists as well as highly renowned manufactures such as Sèvres, out of whose production two delicate plates are shown in the exhibition. 

In a similar way that circular openings in the wall of the Figuren dissolve the distinction between interior and exterior space, the dark veil of paint covering some works on canvas is interrupted by circles of light, revealing a level of deeper meaning beyond the mere superficial impression. Like luminaries lighting up the cosmic darkness, the round shapes emanate a transcendental bearing, suggesting the immateriality of the spiritual space. And effectively, Prangenberg, a devout Catholic, cites the circular design of gothic rose windows, whose translucent quality left a marked impression on him. 

Norbert Prangenberg was born in 1949 in Rommerskirchen-Nettesheim. He produces his first woodcuts and drawings while training as a gold- and silversmith in 1965. Prangenberg expands his work spectrum in 1979 by sculpture in 1979 and later painting in 2001. In 1980 Galerie Karsten Greve is first to present his work to the public. After taking part in documenta 7 (1982) in Kassel, Prangenberg rises to international notoriety, with numerous solo shows in prestigious institutions around Europe firmly establishing his relevance in the art world. From 1993 – 2012 Prangenberg holds a professorship of glass and ceramics at the Munich art academy. In later years his ceramic works in particular have been honoured through exhibitions in Germany and also internationally with Keramische Räume at the Museum Morsbroich in Leverkusen, CERAMIX – Art and ceramics from Rodin to Schütte (Bonnefantenmuseum Maastricht, Maison Rouge, Paris und Sèvres (20152016)) being particularly noteworthy. The Pinakothek der Moderne in Munich presented Ein Raum für Norbert Prangenberg in 2014. The artist’s works can be found in many major public and private collections, with the Kaiser-Wilhelm museum in Krefeld among others displaying the over 30 objects in their collection in a special designated space since its reopening in September 2016. Norbert Prangenberg passed away in 2012 in Krefeld.


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