January 26, 2019
German artist Manfred Pernice titled his sixth exhibition at Anton Kern Gallery re-kapito, which derives from the German verb “rekapitulieren,” meaning “to repeat in a summarized form,” “to remember,” “to visualize once again.” In a broad sense, this term describes a central impulse in Pernices’ work: namely the intent to commemorate and visualize events, histories, and locations through the language of sculpture. In a concrete sense, re-kapito defines an exhibition concept and the artist’s decision to intersperse his new sculptures with re-assembled works from 2008, aptly titled ‘diary.’
re-kapito consists of three distinct bodies of work: standing “Dosen” sculptures (the German “Dose” meaning “can” or “container”), floor- and wall-bound “Cassettes,” and a group of floor-based modular sculptures from the past ‘diary’ series. What ties these works together is their capacity to contain objects -- and even dates and time -- and therefore generate meaning.
Can sculpture – a monument, or a memorial – commemorate specific events? From seemingly insignificant, yet concrete and personal ones, to historically significant and abstract occasions? Can it evoke a sense of place that is different from the current viewer’s location? Traditionally, these questions have been answered by means of figuration, heroic gesture, and noble materials. Pernice’s work, however, circumvents this language radically. On a formal level, the work instead alludes to architecture, to model-making, to industrial packaging, and to display design. Yet, the work clearly, and literally, contains narratives, represented in an associative form by way of integrating found objects. These materials (photographs, Xerox-copied texts, travel brochures, ceramics) start to resonate precisely within the stark contrast to the geometric precision and the slightly obsessive nature of the sculptural objects. It is the artist’s embrace of simple materials (particle board, Formica and oil-based enamel paint), along with the fragmentary and provisional presentation of the works, that emphasizes the historical content and suggests an approach to memory and history that is as fragmentary and constructive as the sculptural work.