Kriwet's work in Poor. Old. Tired. Horse. brings together poetic language, commercial function and mystical forms.
Ferdinand Kriwet is a multimedia artist who has engaged with text, language and concrete poetry since the 1960s. Kriwet's Text Signs, 1968, a set of which are shown in the ICA's Lower Gallery, are made from stamped aluminium. The format implies a commercial function, and the pieces resonate with advertising culture. However, Kriwet's circular use of text also has strong associations with the mandala, an Indian form imbued with spiritual significance in Buddhism and Hinduism. Moreover, it has the function of disrupting the linear process of writing, as words and names join together or are juxtaposed to suggest a clashing and fusing of ideas.
Kriwet's signs, like Finlay's landscape pieces and wall paintings, were an attempt to move concrete poetry quite literally into the world. The use of the sign form to contest subjects such as militarism and sexuality, and to co-opt the public inscription of power, is also an interesting precedent for the work of Jenny Holzer and other artists in the 1980s. The circular form is further explored in Kriwet's Text Dias and Text Sails, 1970, giant signs printed on PVC, a group of which are displayed in the ICA's Concourse.
Ferdinand Kriwet was born in Düsseldorf in 1942, and lives in Dresden. As well as his text works, the artist has also produced 'sound-picture-collages' and experiments in radio, television and publishing. Kriwet was included in the seminal concrete poetry exhibition at the ICA, Between Poetry and Painting, curated by Jasia Reichardt in 1965; more recently, he had a solo show at The Modern Institute, Glasgow, in 2008.