In the same period, he had his first solo museum exhibition at Museum Haus Lange in Krefeld. In 1975-76 he organized his first major retrospective at the Bern Kunsthalle and he awarded the Will Grohmann Prize of the Academy of Arts in West Berlin. One year later, he started to create first wooden sculptures and he met Jörg Immendorff in East Berlin. In the late 1970s they were included in shows in West Berlin and were seen as exponents of free speech in the East. Their work was shown by major museums and galleries in the West throughout the 1980s. They were included in a number of important shows including the famous Zeitgeist exhibition in the well-known Martin Gropius Bau Museum and the important New Art show at the Tate in London in 1983. In the 1980s he became known worldwide for paintings with pictographic, neoprimitivist imagery of human figures and other totemic forms. In 1980 he emigrated from East to West Berlin and there he began his friendship with Markus Lüpertz and Per Kirkeby and visited Joseph Beuys. In 1981 he won the Rembrandt Prize by the Goethe Foundation in Basel and one year later he started to work with iron and bronze. In the same year, he published Krater und Wolke, which is edited by A.R. Penck and dedicated to Georg Baselitz. In 1984 he participated at the 41st Venice Biennale with Lothar Baumgarten. Penck’s sculptures are able to evokin primitive themes, as his paintings and drawings. Crudely painted and assembled, despite their anti-aesthetic and the rough-and-ready quality of their construction, they have the same symbolic, archetypal anthropomorphic forms. The sculptures are often reminiscent of the stone heads of Easter Island and other Oceanic art, the paintings are influenced by Paul Klee’s work and mix the flatness of Egyptian or Mayan writing with the crudity of the late black paintings by Jackson Pollock. He was a member and with Frank Wollny co-founder of the free jazz group Triple Trip Touch (alias T.T.T. or TTT) and took every opportunity to play with some of the best Jazz musicians of the late eighties. In 1989 he became a professor at the Academy of Art, Düsseldorf. During 1997-98 he had an extensive traveling exhibition throughout Japan and in 2007-2008 a retrospective exhibition at Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt. A.R. Penck lives and works in Berlin, Düsseldorf, Dublin and New York.
Ralf Winkler, alias A.R. Penck was a German painter, printmaker and sculptor, who started with the language of Neo Expressionism, producing a strong and violence painting, critically dedicated to the contemporary times in Germany and Europe. He became one of the foremost exponents of the new figuration alongside Jörg Immendorff, Georg Baselitz and Markus Lüpertz.