Digitalism Art – The Ingenious World of Petrus Wandrey
From June 15th to September 28th the Museum Zitadelle Spandau, Berlin showed an exhibition of Petrus Wandrey.
Captivated by Dalí, Petrus Wandrey (born 8 March 1939 in Dresden, died 5 November 2012 in Hamburg), paid a visit to his idol in 1975 and bestowed his surrealistic work “Venus’ Wind“ on him, which received a permanent place in Dalí’s private museum. Nonetheless, Dalí urged him to strive to attain a personal style reflecting his own era, as surrealism had been an invention of Dalí’s generation. Wandrey, fascinated by surrealism, but also by pop art and dadaism, ultimately found his design vocabulary in binary codes. Not surprisingly so, as the early 1970s saw the dawn of the computer age. The pixel, the smallest, predefined picture element in the shape of a square, determines his digital formal language. Pixels sequenced vertically and horizontally create whatever silhouette is desired. In 1978, in the wake of the inauguration of his panel “Science and Beyond“ in New York, Wandrey proclaims the age of digitalism. He also points out that in digital formal language, there is no predominance of idiosyncrasies or identification particular to individual nations or continents. It is rather the first pictorial design option to be universally comprehensible and to find acceptance of people of all nations. At the same time, creative technique for him is merely the medium to convey, in an idea, a statement he deems necessary to make. The medium is the idea. Although other artists have chosen the path of digitalism, one can undeniably declare Petrus Wandrey to be the consummate pioneer of digitalism.
To Wandrey, technology and art are not antitheses; rather is their mutual alliance needed. Hence, he does not stop at the pixel but explores the entire world of computers and high tech gadgets from circuit boards, chips and diodes to heat sinks, cables, discs and many more. “Computer junk” can stimulate aesthetically, is processed artistically and transposed to a new, unexpected context. Thus, his oeuvre comprises paintings, graphics, bas-reliefs, sculptures, installations, object art and design works. It reveals wit and irony while coincidentally addressing politics of the day. Wandrey elaborated on this in an interview: “In the arts also, political issues of the day/week/month/year should be ever-present and available for discourse to find possibilities of hope to counteract –just maybe and ever so slightly – the phenomenon of ethical and societal “super-dumbing down.“
The exhibition staged at the “Zitadelle” was the first exhibition subsequent to the artist’s death. It displayed works ranging from the mid-80s to latest projects. They are the works of an internationally renowned German artist who lived in Hamburg for almost 7 decades. There, Petrus Wandrey studied from 1960 until 1963 at the college for fashion, school of applied arts for textile design, advertising and graphic design and, from 1963 until 1968, at the university of fine arts (HFBK). During his early years, Wandrey also worked as a designer and illustrator, designing numerous record album covers from all musical genres. Front pages and illustrations of magazines like “Spiegel”, “Stern” and “Capital” bear his hallmarks. For director Rainer Werner Fassbinder, he designed film posters; posters for known rock bands were also designed by him. It was through Petrus Wandrey that Hamburg art collector Harald Falckenberg discovered his passion for art collecting. In his high-level, internationally known collection, works by Wandrey are included.
In a special exhibition Sabatier Galerie & Kunsthandel presents works from Petrus Wandrey on an area of 600 Square meters.