Irma Blank at P420, Bologna

Irma Blank, installation view Life Line, P420, 2017.
Courtesy P420, Bologna. Photo: C Favero.


After Senza Parole (2013), P420 is pleased to present Life Line, a solo show by the artist Irma Blank (Celle, 1934) specifically created for the spaces of the gallery.

German by birth but residing in Italy since the late 1950s, Irma Blank lives and works in Milan. She has inherited the need to connect art and life from the avant-gardes, and especially the neo-avant-gardes of the mid-20th century. This criterion of measure emerges in Blank’s work since the end of the 1960s, in the form of silent aesthetic dedication. She has made writing the thread around which to develop and convey lengthy experi­ence with a focus on gesture.

All of Blank’s work is marked by the dialectic between writing and draw­ing, writing and painting. Paper, canvas, panel and book are the surfaces on which she creates and structures the relationship between sign and time; ink, ballpoint pen, watercolor, oils and acrylics are the tools Blank chooses to create the body of the work.

Irma Blank, Gesetztafel I-VII, 1993.
Oil and acrylic on board, 231 x 101 x 5 cm (each).
Courtesy the artist and P420, Bologna. Photo C. Favero.


Irma Blank, Radical Writings, Exercitium, IV, 22 ott.’93, 1993.
Oil on paper, 32 x 24 cm.
Courtesy the artist and P420, Bologna. Photo: C. Favero.


Though always applying different approaches, the reference to writing and the space of the book is a constant in her creations, starting from the very first series of works; a writing that becomes universal, that is never to be read, but to be observed. Painting becomes reading, writing becomes image. An architecture of the unspoken and the in-between.

The protagonist of the exhibition is the series Radical Writings (from the early 1980s to the 1990s) with which Irma Blank makes her sign even more abstract with respect to the previous cycles, clarifying its relation­ship with time. The long writing-like signs of color (first rose-violet, then blue), applied with a brush on canvas, are linear and uniform. She literally paints “in one breath,” with absolute concentration, without hesitation. Writing is breathing, painting is breathing, working is living. Every trace matches the length of one breath, from left to right, start to finish, emptiness to fullness. A sign in total tension. At the start of the sign the color is more emphatic, fading as the sign gradually extends, generating a shadow zone at the center of the painting that reminds us of the space of a book. Here writing and painting blend in the continuity of a sign-time

Irma Blank, Radical writings, Schrift-Atem-Bild 3-2-93, 1993
Oil on canvas, diptych. 160 x 100 cm each (160 x 200 cm overall)
Courtesy the artist and P420, Bologna. Photo C. Favero


The exhibition, besides a group of works never shown before from the series Radical Writings, also includes a selection of recent works.

Irma Blank, installation view Life Line, P420, 2017.
Courtesy P420, Bologna. Photo: C Favero


Irma Blank, Radical Writings, Lonesome story, right page, D-1, 1986.
Acrylic on parchment like paper, pages, 5 x 24.5 cm each.
Courtesy the artist and P420, Bologna. Photo C. Favero


P420 – Via Azzo Gardino 9, 40122 Bologna
28 January – 18 March 2017