Irma Blank

Life Line

28 January – 18 March 2017

After Senza Parole (2013), P420 is pleased to present Life Line, a solo show by the artist Irma Blank (Celle, 1934) specifically created for the spaces of the gallery. 

 

German by birth but residing in Italy since the late 1950s, Irma Blank lives and works in Milan. She has inherited the need to connect art and life from the avant-gardes, and especially the neo-avant-gardes of the mid-20th century. This criterion of measure emerges in Blank’s work since the end of the 1960s, in the form of silent aesthetic dedication. She has made writing the thread around which to develop and convey lengthy experience with a focus on gesture.  All of Blank’s work is marked by the dialectic between writing and drawing, writing and painting. Paper, canvas, panel and book are the surfaces on which she creates and structures the relationship between sign and time; ink, ballpoint pen, watercolor, oils and acrylics are the tools Blank chooses to create the body of the work. Though always applying different approaches, the reference to writing and the space of the book is a constant in her creations, starting from the very first series of works; a writing that becomes universal, that is never to be read, but to be observed. Painting becomes reading, writing becomes image. An architecture of the unspoken and the in-between.

 

The protagonist of the exhibition is the series Radical Writings (from the early 1980s to the 1990s) with which Irma Blank makes her sign even more abstract with respect to the previous cycles, clarifying its relationship with time. The long writing-like signs of color (first rose-violet, then blue), applied with a brush on canvas, are linear and uniform. She literally paints “in one breath,” with absolute concentration, without hesitation. Writing is breathing, painting is breathing, working is living. Every trace matches the length of one breath, from left to right, start to finish, emptiness to fullness. A sign in total tension. At the start of the sign the color is more emphatic, fading as the sign gradually extends, generating a shadow zone at the center of the painting that reminds us of the space of a book. Here writing and painting blend in the continuity of a sign-time.

 

The exhibition, besides a group of works never shown before from the series Radical Writings, also includes a selection of recent works.

 

Irma Blank has shown at GAM, Bologna (1977), Documenta 6, Kassel (1977), the 38th Venice Art Biennale (1978), Westfälischer Kunstverein, Münster (1979), Fondation Nationale des Arts Graphiques et Plastiques, Paris (1980), Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Paris (1981, 1996), Bonner Kunstverein and Stadtische Galerie, Regensburg (1981), Musée des Beaux Arts, Rouen (1982), Centre Pompidou, Paris (1985, 2009, 2010 and 2013), Quadriennale, Roma (1986, 2005), Heidelberger Kunstverein (1990), PAC, Milano (1992), Folkwangmuseum, Essen (1992), MoMA, New York (1992), Museo della Fondazione Querini Stampalia, Venezia (1996), Kunstmuseum, Düsseldorf (1997), Museion, Bolzano (2002, 2009), Museo della Permanente, Milano (2002), Museo d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Roma (2007), MART, Rovereto (2007), Palazzo Reale, Milano (2010), Mostyn Museum, Llandudno (2014), Kunsthalle, Wien (2014), MAMBO, Bologna (2015), Kunsthaus, Hamburg (2016). Recent exhibitions include: Concrete Islands, Kayne Griffin Corcoran, Los Angeles; VERSUS, La sfida dell'artista al suo modello in un secolo di fotografia e disegno, curated by Andrea Bruciati, Daniele De Luigi, Serena Goldoni, Galleria Civica, Palazzo Santa Margherita, Modena; Hand-Schreiben, Ruine der Künste, Berlin, Waterfront, Palazzo Costanzi, Trieste; The Unarchivable, curated by Marco Scotini, Frigoriferi Milanesi, Milano; Tutta l'Italia è silenziosa, curated by Davide Ferri, Reale Accademia di Spagna, Roma; 1/1, BKV Brandenburgischer Kunstverein, Potsdam. Upcoming events in 2017 include the solo shows at Alison Jacques Gallery in London, Gregor Podnar Gallery in Berlin and Museion in Bolzano and the participation at Colori at Castello di Rivoli, Torino.

Exhibition Works

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Irma Blank, Radical Writings, Dal libro totale, 10-3-83, 1983, acrylic on canvas, cm.40x30
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Irma Blank, Radical Writings, Pagina, dal libro totale, 1986, watercolor on card, 4 pages, cm.76x56 each (cm.152x112 overall)
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Irma Blank, Radical Writings, Lonesome story, pagina destra, D-1, 1986, acrylic on parchment like paper, 5 pages, cm.35x24,5 each
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Irma Blank, Radical Writings, Drawing of breath, 6-8-87, 1987, acrylic on canvas, diptych, cm.75x55 each (cm.75x110 overall)
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Irma Blank, Radical Writings, Rosa geatmet, rosa gechrieben, 1987, acrylic on canvas, diptych, cm.240x120 each, (cm. 240x240 overall)
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Irma Blank, Radical Writings, One way, 1991, oil on transparent paper, 25 pages, cm.25x35 each
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Irma Blank, Radical Writings, One way, 1991, oil on transparent paper, 25 pages, cm.25x35 each (detail)
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Irma Blank, Gesetztafel I-VII, 1993, oil and acrylic on board, cm. 231x101x5 (each)
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Irma Blank, Gesetztafel I, 1993, oil and acrylic on board, cm. 231x101x5
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Irma Blank, Gesetztafel II, 1993, oil and acrylic on board, cm. 231x101x5
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Irma Blank, Radical writings, Schrift-Atem-Bild 3-2-93, 1993, oil on canvas, diptych, cm.160x100 each (cm.160x200 overall)
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