21st October 2007 — 20th January 2008
Opening: Saturday, 20th October 2007, 5 pm
»Palermo, the name had been found and slowly it came to stand for the hand belonging to the greatest painter of this generation ...«, wrote Georg Jappe in 1977, shortly after Peter Heisterkamp, who artist's pseudonym was Palermo, died unexpectedly at the age of 33. The Kunsthalle Düsseldorf and the Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen will celebrate their 40th anniversary in their home on the Grabbeplatz with an exhibition of his works specifically conceived to accommodate the spatial properties of the building itself. In conjunction with this celebration, which has been designed to render visible both the architecture as well as the institutions themselves, for which it was originally built, a comprehensive overview of Palermo's (1943—1977) work is to be shown for the first time in the town that was at the centre of his life for so many years.
Together with the guest curator Susanne Küper, Ulrike Groos (Kunsthalle Düsseldorf) and Vanessa Joan Müller (Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen) and their team have prepared this presentation of Palermo's pioneering œuvre. Artworks from pivotal groups of works — cloth pictures, metal paintings, objects, drawings — chart in exemplary fashion the development of an artist's career which was cut short prematurely and which not only exerted a great influence on his contemporaries, but also on the artistic practices of today.
Palermo came to Düsseldorf in 1962 in order to study at the Academy initially under Bruno Goller and then under Joseph Beuys. He developed his unmistakeable abstract pictorial language here and later in the USA (1973—1976) that decisively extended the concept of the picture and explored a new relationship between composition and space.
The characteristic balancing act between composition and object is equally a theme of the exhibition as is the physical quality of his works. The development from traditional composition on the one hand to the object on the wall on the other, all the way through to murals, themselves redolent of categories such as surface, space and time, will be exemplified in the selection of works on show, some of which are being exhibited in public for the first time. It is not the individual composition that takes the limelight, but rather the overall effect and interaction of many works in the space provided, very much in accordance with the artist's ideas. Works on loan from international museums and private collections supplement the exhibition to provide a comprehensive view of an artist whose work remains abidingly current.
There will be a catalogue publication by the DuMont Literatur und Kunst Verlag in which Palermo's work and his characteristic method of working will be discussed in conversations between art historians, critics, artists and contemporaries. The differing and equally valid perspectives on Palermo's work coalesce to form a richly facetted image underlining Palermo's overall art historical merit and status. The publication (approx. 240 pages) will cost EUR 29.80.