23.02.2008 - 29.03.2008
Opening: Friday, 22. Feb. 7-9 p.m.
The last retrospective of the Cologne artist C.O. Paeffgen took place almost a decade ago. The exhibition at Sies + Höke presents a selection of the most important works from the Seventies to the Nineties.
As an autodidact, Paeffgen opposed the art establishment of the German art scene of the Sixties together with Polke, Sieverding, Klauke and Beuys. Especially the still-young medium of Television, the growing world of cinema, print media and advertising was motivation for the artistic activities and production.
For his "border strips" ("Umrandungen") Paeffgen over drawed photo portraits from newspapers with a felt-tip pen so that they turned into comic-like images that appeared either covered and anonymous or sharpened. In that manner he indicated politicians like Chrustschow, Yellow press celebrities or even anonymous faces who were all characterized, levelled and branded in the same way. The over drawings are rather a playful approach to the new media development and its reception and the relationship between original and reproduction than comments on the photographed people themselves.
For the "objects in colour" Paeffgen painted fruit boxes with monochrome colour areas. The structure of the boxes is different and the colours are arranged in the exhibition space from box to box in a very special rhythm. It seems as if the artist has continued the suprematic colour experiments of Malevich in his own way.
Stylized motives like a heart with an arrow through it, a mouse, a bow, the moon and a question mark appear again and again and are very understandable at first sight. The trivial signs on fabric, boards or slates seem to be ironic comments on usually overlooked everyday-life objects. As with the over drawings the font of artistic signs is varied and condensed to a personal ideogram. Banal ironic comments like 'sehr schön' ('very beautiful'), 'geil' ('cool') or 'scheiße' ('shit') sound like the free translation of Warhol's 'all is pretty'.
For decades Paeffgen collected remains of every day life - toys, kitsch, souvenirs, trash, tools - that he combined and connected with wire. These 'Wirings' ('Umdrahtungen') achieved not only a brutal effect but also separated the objects from their actual function and transfered them in concentration on their form, material and colour to a new structure.
Despite all obvious comparisons and analogies Paeffgen differs from the ready-mades of Duchamp as well as from the Combine Paintings of Rauschenberg. His objects meet far less accidentally than an umbrella and sewing machine of the Dadaists. His roots in the Sixties and Seventies are just as unquestionable as his effect on younger artist generations as Hans Peter Feldmann or Fischli/Weiss.
Text: Carla Orthen
C. O. Paeffgen is born in Cologne in 1933 and lives in Cologne
2005 Abstrakte Nachrichten, Galerie Levy, Hamburg
1999 Handarbeiten, Museum Ludwig, Köln
1993 Objekte in Farbe, Kestner-Gesellschaft Hannover
1992 Handarbeiten, Galerie Rudolf Zwirner, Köln
2007 Die Kunst zu Sammeln, Museum Kunst Palast, Düsseldorf
2005 Sich selbst bei Laune halten, Kunstmuseum Bonn
(my private) HEROES, MARTa Herford
1998 Deutschlandbilder, Martin Gropius Bau, Berlin
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