Jo Pellenz is an exceptional artist. Pellenz is an artist, teacher, social worker, role model. He works internationally and is still deeply rooted in his city. In 2008 he worked nearly 2 month for his installation in the old Ermita de Sant Sebastia in Cervera del Maestre, Castellon, Spain.
As a donation to the village, the inhabitants and the CASAdelDRAGON he worked out one paper sculpture for each citizen of the village.
His friend Juan Petry was invited to give an introduction to his installation in the gallery 68 eleven in Cologne (2009).
In the sense of the German artist Beuys, Pellenz is a social sculpture by himself. He strives to unite art and science and calls for creative participation in society through art. In my laudatory speech, I would like to go into precisely these social aspects of this artist’s art. That is why this speech is entitled „Jo Pellenz – from farmer to gardener“.
I’ll start with the farmer: Pellenz comes from a Moselan winegrowing family and in his youth learned the hard trade of winegrowing that shaped him. Instead of Moselle romance and wine bliss, the drudgery was in tune with nature.
Please ask yourself: what energy does a person have to muster to plant a new vine, who knows that he will experience the most productive time of this vine – if at all – as an old elderly person. What strength does a person need in this steep location to work most of the time for the next generation and the one after that. What will drives one to create something whose reward may be far in the future, if there is any at all. What kind of people are those who devote themselves to such a vision?
The imagination to do the right thing, to keep doing it – possibly with pain – the inner security to be on the right path, to set goals, to give things meaning. That drives these people.
Jo Pellenz certainly drew his strength from the yield of the vines that his ancestors planted and tended for him. He who is one with his vineyard has this power. „Creating a space for yourself and others in which a free, self-determined life is possible for yourself and those who follow…“ – I’ll come back to that later.
In Pellenz’s CV I can find various professions: acoustician – social worker – model builder … and others are not even listed, but they have influenced this artist in one way or another. I could have given this speech the title, from food to luxury food. And that applies here between the 200 figures of this installation in the Cologne gallery 68elf, just as it applies to all professions from winegrowers to artists: working on and for enjoyment.
At the beginning I was reminded of Beuys and his social sculpture. The social worker is not that far. But when I think of Pellenz, how he strides through the room in a small Spanish church, wide-eyed, walks through this room in big strides and understands and already creates his installation in his thoughts, then I know that someone is taking a big step in the art is on the way. Someone wants to open up spaces, change perspectives, move something. Art should move people, physically and emotionally. Pellenz moves and others.
But that is not an end in itself. If you walk right now through this installation, if you talk to one another, freely express your opinion – also about this speech – you are the followers, who walk through this garden of Kepo, just like the guests in Epicurus‘ garden, invited to a place where free thinking and speaking grows and thrives, just like Jo Pellenz did in his vineyard among the vines of his ancestors.
Art creates space here. room for you. You are the installation, it is your garden. Make something of it. Talk, discuss. Draw strength from this kepos that Pellenz has dedicated and left to you – without any agreed consideration.
And don’t call me a crisis today! Do you think a vintner thinks of phylloxera when he plants a vine?
„Creating a space for oneself and others, in which a free, self-determined life for oneself and those who follow…“ here I am again… Just as Beuys wanted art to move people, Epicurus wanted his garden to move Movement is a stage on which people can meet in freedom and equality. In Epicurus‘ time, art and science were still arts, united. Now many are longing for this unity again, and Beuys correctly assumed that we can also achieve this with and through art if it reaches out to people again.
Pellenz helps build many gardens, Heilandart, Usefulart and others are also designed by him. And with this will to design, Pellenz completes the development from farmer to gardener. A garden of the future combines yield (food, science) with aesthetics (enjoyment, art).
There are such slick phrases in the art world: The artist works with space. Sometimes it was perhaps more the space that worked with the artist. I like it a little more concrete: Jo Pellenz gives us space. Thinking, acting … we have to do that ourselves.
343 BC – Epicurus, son of a farmer and teacher, is born on Samos in Greece.
1959 AD – Jo Pellenz is carried to the vineyard for the first time by his sisters. They show him his first garden. This is how history begins. Wonderful.
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