Jürgen Partenheimer: The Archive – The Raven Diaries

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Jürgen Partenheimer: The Archive – The Raven Diaries



12 Sep, 2014 to 09 Nov, 2014

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Jürgen Partenheimer
The Archive – The Raven Diaries
September 12 to November 9, 2014

The Contemporary Art Gallery presents the first solo exhibition in Canada of work by acclaimed German artist Jürgen Partenheimer. Reflecting the diversity of the artist’s practice, the exhibition comprises works on paper, text, printmaking, ceramics and sculpture, much of it produced in Vancouver in spring 2014 during his recent residency as the Audain Distinguished Artist-in-Residence, hosted by Emily Carr University of Art + Design.

Partenheimer’s work is essentially abstract; his drawings and paintings, caught seemingly on the verge of dissolution, are remarkable for their fragile beauty, whilst sculpture and ceramic work, suggesting some usefulness, remain elusive with respect to any specific function. His artistic proposition is philosophical, encouraging us to challenge the distinction normally made between reality and imagination. Drawing is used as a means to suggest new pictorial space, linking our experience of place through mapping and gesture, through mark-making. His visual language, the particular form of poetic abstraction, creates a system of open, meditative boundaries. As such this conceptual approach, his life-long interest in notions of representation and his thoughtful, meticulous consideration of locality, space and place, suggest a key resonance with artistic practice in the city, asserting continuity between these forms and an experience of daily life.

The conceptual framework for the exhibition is “The archive” as the artist’s physical and mental “storage”, uniting the remembered and the present, as well as individual and cultural memory. Just as the publicly institutionalized archive is a medium of memory, a place to which cultural works are entrusted, human memory is an archive that constantly creates new relational meanings from changing perspectives. The imaginary archive that gives the exhibition and associated book its title has at its disposal the visually experienced basis of a materially tangible and visually representable inventory: it is based on the oeuvre of the artist, on works that were created in different places, are currently part of public or private collections, and form meaningful relationships between people and spaces. At the same time, artworks as “archival materials” are clearly more than mere repositories of information. They are the visible expression of both intellect and emotion; they carry traces of their process of creation and their temporality and correspond with other objects, whether through their motif or the context of their creation. To this end, in Vancouver the exhibition has a subtitle, The Raven Diaries, referencing the symbol and characteristics of the Raven to west coast First Nations culture, while simultaneously drawing analogies to similar figures in cultural myths elsewhere in the world, and especially to the role of the artist as trickster, representative of a catalyst for change in life, for wisdom, creativity and humour.

Partenheimer’s unique approach to art-making opens new possibilities of understanding an essential interconnectivity between disciplines and fields of thought, insight into the permeability of abstraction into daily life, as well as offering a consideration into how art can incorporate audiences in its very structure. His work is abstract while suggestive of other tangible forms; historical yet refreshingly contemporary; intimate yet public and oscillating within these seeming dualities Partenheimer produces layered, poetic works that speak to social systems of communication and expression while acknowledging the specificity of place.

Alongside the exhibition at the Contemporary Art Gallery, we have worked in partnership with the Museum of Anthropology. In their Koerner European Ceramics Gallery, housing a unique 600-piece collection of 16th-19th century European ceramics, we present two recent works by Partenheimer. These porcelain vessels are part of an extensive series of forms made in 2013 at the Porzellan Manufaktur Nymphenberg, Munich, Germany, as part of their annual invitation to a contemporary artist to work with the factory and skilled artisans to produce a body of new work. Seen here juxtaposed with objects from the same manufacture but of a different time, they provide a counterpoint to the historical collections, connecting us back to a space of the imagination through the perception of the world of things.

Four institutions joined together in a partnership showing various aspects of Partenheimer’s work: the Pinakothek der Moderne in Munich, the Falckenberg Collection, Deichtorhallen Hamburg, the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag and the Contemporary Art Gallery in Vancouver. All four exhibitions have independent installation concepts related to their locations and spaces, and open up various subjective and reflexive realms of experience to visitors. The accompanying book provides a “fifth space” where through a series of commissioned essays, philosophers, historians, artists and poets, reflect on the multi-faceted nature of Partenheimer’s work through an examination of ideas and themes present in his practice.

As part of the Vancouver New Music Festival, the Vancouver Electronic Ensemble will create an improvised performance responding to Partenheimer’s work. See public events section for further details.


The exhibition is generously supported by Jane Irwin and Ross Hill, and with assistance from Niki Design and Glass Studio Inc., North Vancouver.


Jürgen Partenheimer (1947, born in Munich, Germany) participated in the XI Paris Biennial, XVI Biennial in São Paulo and XLII Venice Biennial, leading to the inclusion in exhibitions among others at The Museum of Modern Art, New York; the National Gallery Washington; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; The Singapore Art Museum; Gulbenkian Foundation, Lisbon; Fondacion Miró, Barcelona; the Museum of Contemporary Art in Madrid; Museum Ludwig, Cologne and the National Gallery of Art in Berlin.

In 2000 Partenheimer was the first contemporary German artist to whom the China National Gallery of Art in Beijing and the Nanjing Museum in Nanjing dedicated a comprehensive retrospective of his work. Important one person exhibitions include the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Gemeentemuseum, The Hague; S.M.A.K. Ghent; IVAM, Valencia; CGAC -Centro Galego de Arte Contemporànea, Santiago de Compostela, Spain; Nationalgalerie Berlin; Kunstmuseum Bonn; Staatliche Kunsthalle Karlsruhe; Staedelsches Kunstinstitut Frankfurt; Pinacoteca do Estado, São Paulo and Ikon Gallery, Birmingham.

Awards, grants and residencies include the Art Critics’ Prize of Madrid, Spain; the National Endowment of the Arts Award, New York; Arteleku Grant, Basque Ministry of Culture, San Sebastian; the Grand Prize for Visual Art, Germany; the Federal Cross of Merit of Germany for outstanding international achievement; Copan, Artist-in-Residence Award, Sao Paulo, Brazil; the Nietzsche Grant, Artist-in-Residence, Sils-Maria, Switzerland; Guest of Honour Residency at the German Academy, Villa Massimo in Rome and the Nirox Foundation residency award, Johannesburg, South Africa.

His work has been widely published internationally. Among others, monographs include: Cantos, Amsterdam, 1997; Fragments, Karlsruhe, 1998; Cantos y otras mentiras / songs and other lies, Valencia, 1999; CrossMapping, Beijing, 2000; Architecture-Sculpture, The Hague, 2001; La robe des choses, Ghent, 2002; Suave Loucura-Gentle Madness, Sao Paulo, 2005; Roma-Sao Paulo Drawings and Copan Diary, Sao Paulo, 2007; Metaphysical Landscape, Basel, 2007; Discontinuity, Paradox and Precision, Birmingham/Bonn, 2008; Lemke, Berlin, 2011; Seeds & Tracks and Folded Spirits, Cologne, 2012; Kalliope, Munich/Cologne, 2013.







Jürgen Partenheimer  


Related Events

A tour of the exhibitions on display in Spanish led by photographer Avelina Crespo.



Guided Visit in Spanish | Avelina Crespo


Related Events

The Contemporary Art Gallery presents the first solo exhibition in Canada of work by acclaimed German artist Jürgen Partenheimer. Reflecting the diversity of the artist’s practice, the exhibition comprises works on paper, text, printmaking, ceramics and sculpture, much of it produced in Vancouver in spring 2014 during his recent residency as the Audain Distinguished Artist-in-Residence, hosted by Emily Carr University of Art + Design .



Exhibition Opening - Jürgen Partenheimer: The Archive – The Raven Diaries


Related Events

Jürgen Partenheimer
Thursday, May 8, 6pm
Emily Carr University of Art + Design
Room 301, 1399 Johnston Street, Granville Island

In partnership with ECUAD and in conjunction with his residency, Partenheimer will discuss recent projects as part of his forthcoming solo exhibition at the CAG in September 2014.


Artist Talk | Renga: Dimensions of Abstraction - Jürgen Partenheimer


Related Events

Please join us to celebrate the launch of our new book shop at the CAG with a special talk and book signing with Jürgen Partenheimer

Saturday April 5, 1.30–2.30pm.

Audain Distinguished Artist-in-Residence
Emily Carr University of Art + Design
February to May, 2014

In partnership with ECUAD, German artist Jürgen Partenheimer will be living and working in Vancouver for three months, work produced during this residency forming part of his forthcoming solo exhibition at the CAG in September 2014. There will be a series of associated events as part of the residency. Please visit our website for further details.

An accompanying book DAS ARCHIV/THE ARCHIVE published by Distanz Verlag, Germany in partnership with CAG, Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich; Gemeente Museum Den Haag and Deichtorhellen Hamburg Sammlung Falckenberg is available from the CAG Bookshop and online at the special price $50.


Publication launch and signing - Jürgen Partenhiemer


In CAG Shop


368 pages

With his participation in the biennials of Paris, Venice and São Paulo, Jürgen Partenheimer is one of the most important German artists working today. With critical intelligence, Jürgen Partenheimer measures and maps the free space of art and its practice, which must constantly be redefined. As the artist's physical and psychological "storedom", the "archive" unites memories with the present and the individual with cultural recollection.

This book- designed in close collaboration with the artist - sheds light on various aspects of Partenheimer's multifaceted oeuvre that combines constructive elements of Minimal Art with lyrical intensity.

The publication contains text contributions by authors representing a variety of disciplines, written in German and English, they include Anne Carson, Lebogang Mashile, Carla Schulz-Hoffmann, Rudi Fuchs and Nigel Prince.

In 2014, the Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich, the Falckenberg Collection, Hamburg, the Gemeentemuseum, The Hague, and the Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver will present thematic exhibitions of Jürgen Partenheimer's work.


Jürgen Partenheimer - Das Archiv / The Archive


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