Polke’s work may be understood as an analysis of the mark-making central to two-dimensional representation. From his earliest practice, he emphasised a dynamic tension between expressive gesture, often humorously subverting its traditional subjectivity, and mechanical reproduction. His paintings combine found printed images with more organically-made painterly marks. He uses half-tone photography from newspapers and magazines, enlarging and reproducing it on canvas, often corrupting the original beyond recognition. From 1964 he began overlaying imagery on printed fabrics, creating a double layer of patterning and undermining the traditional relationship between subject and background. More recently he has been painting on transparent fabric, through which the structural support of the wooden stretchers is clearly visible.
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