Ferdinand Penker studied medicine and art history at the University of Graz from 1968 to 1972. In 1971, he got to know Josef Albers, and he lived in the USA as a professor at the University of California, Davis, from 1977 to 1987. In 1986, he travelled to Japan for the first time, and he later lived and worked in Tokyo for half a year in 2008.
In the 1970s, Ferdinand Penker began building up an œuvre influenced by Constructivist and Concrete art, American Color Field painting, and Minimal art. Throughout his career, he explored and continued to develop the means, possibilities, and conditions of painting. Ferdinand Penker’s work is characterized by an analytic quality and consistency that has earned him a singular position within Austrian painting.
Also in the 1970s, he developed a distinct vocabulary and methodology, which he continued to vary and intensify in his work. Due to his fascination with space and architecture, his artistic endeavors began to concentrate on the line. He used the serial repetition of identical lines to produce two-dimensional structures as examples of abstract composition and formal results of a method of a specific scriptural application of paint. In the 1990s, this often minimalistic, monochrome, and radically decelerated painting acquired a sense of spatiality through which the picture as an autonomous unit dissolved, thus expanding the range of his engagement.
Selected solo exhibitions: Schloss Wolfsberg, Austria (2016); Museum der Wahrnehmung, Graz (2014); Museum Moderner Kunst Kärnten, Klagenfurt (2010), Sclater Street Platform, London (2010); Machiya Bunka Center, Tokyo (2008); NOSPACE, Casa Amarilla, San Jose (2006); 97-99 Sclater Street, London (2000); Kärntner Landesgalerie, Klagenfurt (1999); Forum Stadtpark, Graz (1995); Neue Galerie am Landesmuseum Joanneum, Graz (1994); KALA Institute, Berkeley (1984); and Wiener Secession, Vienna (1981).