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What Can a Face Do?

Petzel is pleased to present What Can a Face Do?, an online exhibition of works exploring portraiture and its many forms and interpretations. In the current pandemic state, our noses and mouths are covered with masks, which prohibits us from seeing each other face to face. As a result, the portrait becomes especially urgent as a model of representation: the face expresses and reveals the inner feelings of a person; it shows something that is hidden behind the facade, yet there is something in the appearance of a face that allows access to what is hidden beneath. This exhibition brings together a selection of works concentrated around the idea of faces, presenting a visual “group portrait” that highlights the relevancy of portraiture today.

What Can a Face Do? includes work by Yael Bartana, Keith Edmier, Asger Jorn, Sean Landers, Rezi van Lankveld, Maria Lassnig, Jorge Pardo, Joyce Pensato, Jon Pylypchuk, and Nicola Tyson.


Three roles of the face are recognizable: it is individualizing (it characterizes each person); it is socializing (it manifests a social role); it is relational or communicating (it ensures not only communication between two people, but also, in a single person, the internal agreement between their character and their role).

—Gilles Deleuze, Cinema 1: The Movement-Image, 1986


Mask on, fuck it, mask off.

—Future, Mask Off, 2017


Yael Bartana, Undertaker 5

Yael Bartana

Undertaker 5


Archival pigment print

70.9 x 47.2 inches

180 x 120 cm

Sean Landers, Galileo, Randy Moss and Patiner

Sean Landers

Galileo, Randy Moss and Patiner


Oil on linen

50 x 43 inches

127 x 109.2 cm

Joyce Pensato, Stan

Joyce Pensato



Enamel on linen

48 x 40 inches

121.9 x 101.6 cm

Asger Jorn, Actor in Action

Asger Jorn

Actor in Action


Oil on canvas

25.6 x 21.3 inches

65 x 54 cm

Jorge Pardo, Untitled

Jorge Pardo



MDF, acrylic paint, Caoba, LED fixtures

63 x 47 inches

160 x 119.4 cm

Jon Pylypchuk, Mr. Lover Lover!

Jon Pylypchuk

Mr. Lover Lover!


Fabric, wood glue, watercolor, glitter, black cue balls, polyurethane, wood on linen on panel

39.5 x 27.5 x 6 inches

100.3 x 69.9 x 15.2 cm

Nicola Tyson, Portrait Head #64

Nicola Tyson

Portrait Head #64


Acrylic on paper

20 x 14 inches

50.8 x 35.6 cm

Maria Lassnig, Untitled

Maria Lassnig


ca. 1990–1999

Watercolor and pencil on paper

27.4 x 19.7 inches

69.7 x 50.1 cm

Keith Edmier, Edmier imagines (Ice Cube, Musician/Actor)

Keith Edmier

Edmier imagines (Ice Cube, Musician/Actor)



9.5 x 6 x 4.75 inches

24.1 x 15.2 x 12.1 cm

Rezi van Lankveld, Superhero

Rezi van Lankveld



Oil on canvas

25.6 x 19.7 inches

65 x 50 cm

Head is all heart has. Help, head. Help heart.

—Lydia Davis, Head, Heart, 2007

Slideshow Two

Yael Bartana, Bury Our Weapons, Not Our Bodies

Yael Bartana

Bury Our Weapons, Not Our Bodies

Mask 2


Silkscreen on aluminum

24.9 x 20.2 x 1.2 inches

63.3 x 51.2 x 3 cm

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