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Norbert Prangenberg

Galerie Karsten Greve Paris

September 6 - October 11, 2014
Opening: Saturday, September 6, 2014, 5 - 8 pm

Galerie Karsten Greve Paris is pleased to announce the exhibition Sculpture featuring Norbert Prangenberg. As a painter, engraver, sculptor and glass designer, Prangenberg was a major figure in contemporary German art. As an artist of the second half of the twentieth century, his work reflects the formal experiments of the post-war avant-garde where material and its relationship to space was one of the main concerns in artistic evolution. While man landed on the moon and concepts became more and more spacious, Prangenberg devoted himself to modelling clay, always the most fertile ground for artists, giving life to a body of work that pays homage to the concreteness and solidity of sculpture, whose physical presence is sometimes deliberately cumbersome.

Norbert Prangenberg began his early work as a sculptor around 1980. The archaic echoes of his large scale ceramics, whose surfaces are often rough with imposing forms, ascribe an almost timeless significance to the works of the artist. Made of clay, which is as ductile in its natural state as it is rigid after firing, the vases and amphorae arise from the combination of a traditional practice dating back to antiquity merged with contemporary research where the shape is called to follow no rules except those of a search for the expressive. The works in the exhibition have nothing in common with the dainty objects commonly associated with ceramic material or Sevres porcelain: the amazing size and bright colours of these sculptures bring the visitor to discover a world where solemn grandeur mingles with a playful lightness; where the form is free and the colours cheerful.
With a precisely defined mixture of materials made of clay and fireclay necessary for modelling and the important qualities of combustibility, Norbert Prangenberg builds his large sculptures with hollow bodies that are generally oval. The shape is created by placing the material directly in rings or with the help of patterns. Layer after layer, clay rings are laid one upon the other, "welded" on the inside. Like imaginary archaeological remains, the sculptures resemble hybrid organisms on which parasites, such as small, modelled ripples and fragments of earthenware or trumpet flowers aggregate and develop. These disproportionately large amphorae are reminiscent of traditional pottery by their shape and craftsmanship, but are freed of any utilitarian function.

Norbert Prangenberg focuses on sculptural forms that are simple and at the same time very rich. The crucial prerequisite for his work is the material he uses, which is clay. It is a natural material that comes from the earth. This is a fundamental aspect for Prangenberg who loves to touch the material, to feel it and then work with it. The importance of the physical approach in Prangenberg's practice is obvious. Everywhere we see fingerprints, imposed with greater or lesser force. The artist pierces the walls of the circular or rectangular openings and directly adds traces of scrapings, grazes and scratches by hand, which give his sculptures a real organic character. The intrinsic relationship between the artist's body and the material is also reflected in the title he consistently uses - "figure." Prangenberg refuses to name his works whose purpose and meaning must only be evoked from the object itself, without any reference to the things of this world.
Another symbol of his anchoring to the earth, Prangenberg models his sculptures on the ground: he follows the consistency of clay, its natural heaviness, its malleability and tectonics. In his method, the artist accepts the movement that is inherent in the material, which is thus integrated into the work. The nature of shapeless lumps of clay, the roughness of a wall, the cracks of a surface are therefore not fully subject to the hand of the modeller. In his glazed terracotta sculptures, the flow of the glaze is deposited in the cracks of the clay. The pathways this flow takes, the way the colours change, all remain subject to the nature of the material.

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