May 28, 2012

BERLIN: SELIM VAROL'S ART AND TOYS

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 art_and_toys_me_collectors_room- © Jermain Raffington & Clemens Poloczek
 Images: courtesy collection Selim Varol and me collectors room, berlin; last image © Jermain Raffington & Clemens Poloczek via ignant 

Thomas Olbricht's private museum Me Collectors Room at Auguststrasse in Berlin-Mitte has not convinced me in a single exhibition. The only space that always seems coherent to me, is his Wunderkammer  - a permanent chamber-of-curiosity collection, displaying hundreds of artifacts from the Renaissance and Baroque period. The current exhibition 'Art & Toys', showing a choice of 3.000 pieces from Selim Varol's 15.000 piece private collection, finally puts the museum's agenda in perspective: The collector himself, his obsession and his passion come to the fore.
Olbricht, titling his museum 'ME' (however, as I found out in the comment section below by Selim Varol himself, meaning Moving Energies), makes no secret of the venue's self-centeredness. Nor does the Düsseldorf-based, 39-year old collector Varol deny his own presence in his collection: “My collection, that’s me – my childhood, my friends, my heroes, my role models, what i enjoy, what moves me.” Shepard Fairey, KAWS, JR, Alexander McQueen, Tim Noble  & Sue Webster, Tony Oursler, Terry Richardson - an endless list of artists, whose works are presented in the collectors (play-)room. One central piece - a Disney/Horror version of Noah's Ark, is inhabited by mutated Teddybear-Spongebobs and smiling Micky Mouses. The walls are plastered with Street Art prints and Shepard Fairey's Obama-posters from 2008. A wild and bombastic mixture of political and everyday objects.
Selim Varol's collection demonstrates a curiosity in the Zeitgeist of a younger generation - a passion for the arty revolution, the affirmative, the permanent hope for a better world, an everlasting wish to never grow old. And - next to Olbricht's Wunderkammer - the collection found a perfect place to be a time record of our today. 

May 24, 2012

AMY'S LONDON: LIMONCELLO, WE LOVE YOU

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all images: Installation Views 'We Love You', Courtesy Limoncello Gallery, London

Last Wednesday saw the opening of East London gallery Limoncello’s new space in the Russian Club’s studios, Dalston. Taking a big step up (in terms of floor space if not geography) from their former shoe-box premises, directors Rebecca May Marston and Rosa Tyhurst have expanded with gusto into their bright, beautiful new space with a raucous group show – ‘We Love You’ – for which gallery artists have been invited to show one piece alongside a piece that has served as inspiration and another from a ‘hot tip’ emerging artist. Unsurprisingly, given the breadth of the Limoncello roster, the result is a pleasingly motley affair with several large sculptural work such as John Frankland’s precarious and gently comic tower of stacked pink balloons (2012) or James Torbles’ ‘Folded Concrete’ slab (2012) vying for immediate attention amongst the assembled video, photographic, painted and printed works.

Although a sense that the show was crowded doubtless owed much to the spectacularly busy opening night where the crowds of young ‘creatives’ managed to make even the commodious premises seem claustophobic. Given space to breathe, the ‘We Love You’ concept allows for revelatory moments of clarity and coherence. Yonatan Vinitsky’s series of photographs, ‘T-R-A-P’ (2011), articulates a strong preoccupation with solid form and colours, repetition and re-configuration, echoed in the double-sided Anatal Biro composition (1950) and beautiful ‘Morgen Rot’ and ‘Abend Rot’ (2000) screenprints by Rupprecht Geiger that bookend it. Deceptively simple, Jack Strange’s levitating tower of stacked CDs  (‘Blank Maxwell’ 2012) is shimmeringly, liquidly beautiful – a magpie reminder of the over-looked glamour of the banal and quotidian.

‘We love you’ is an appropriately upbeat declaration from this East End upstart whose expanded new space is indicative of its (deservedly) growing and increasingly established status on the London art scene. And good luck to them. Limoncello, we love you too!

May 19, 2012

ARTIST WATCH: SEBASTIAN ERRAZURIZ

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all images courtesy Sebastian Errazuriz

The Chilenian, New York-based artist and designer Sebastian Errazuriz (*1977) creates provocating and humorous public art, sculptures and morbid designs. His work explores the ambivalence of life and death - dark sarcasm and intelligent design are united and realised in simple ideas. See his website here: meetsebastian.com

May 14, 2012

COLOGNE: MAX FRINTROP - RICOCHET

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all images:  installation views, Max Frintrop, Ricochet, Courtesy: Galerie Chaplini

 'Geometry', as Isaac Newton once said, 'does not teach us to draw these lines, but requires them to be drawn.' Here we are, surrounded by geometry - the beginning of each and every brushstroke. Max Frintrop (*1982) dedicated his exhibition 'Ricochet' (= a rebound, bounce or skip off a surface) at Galerie Chaplini to these primal lines, investigating in the limits of a 2 dimensional canvas. His wooden sculpture, growing into- and out of the walls and the ceiling, appears as an extension of the colourful paintings. The surface is penetrated. Two- and three dimensionality shake hands and create a space within the space, hypnotising us with their undoubtful, logical truth. Beauty without frills. Conceptuality without severity. The lines are drawn, geometry is born.

May 10, 2012

BERLIN: KUNATH PAINTS THE THINGS WE DID BEFORE WE WERE DEAD

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From top: Friedrich Kunath, "The Inside Of The Outside Of A Dream", 2012, "The Years We Had Were Not All Bad (Free Agents)", 2011/12, "Almost Summer", 2012; Courtesy: all images BQ, Berlin, Photo: Roman Maerz, Berlin

'Come back romance, all is forgiven' neon-coloured letters welcome the visitors of BQ's stunningly well smelling gallery space. Friedrich Kunath's created a world, somewhere between kitsch and sarcasm. His current show 'Things we did when we were dead' approaches death, failure or melancholia with an enviable effortlessness. Kunath (*1974, Germany), who is also a represented artist at White Cube in London, avoids the surrealism-trap by showing more self-irony than anything else. His paintings are always on the fringes of a failed masterpiece-copy, but their layers continuously confuse, somehow and truly unexplainable develop into something beautiful, dragging the attention to incoherent details - bananas, clowns, American advertise illustrations, Brothers Grimm drawings, Pinocchio with tits. Romance, in Kunath's painterly world, is transformed into a compost of old memories and tightens up in his pathetic self-portrait The Inside Of The Outside Of A Dream. Kunath reanimated Romance. It returned, but this time it gives us the finger.

May 8, 2012

COLOGNE: VISCERALITY BY GEREON KREBBER

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Visceral sculpture by Gereon Krebber at ArtCologne represented by Galerie Christian Lethert. The gallery currently exhibits the solo show 'Somatös'  by the Cologne-based sculptor until the 26th of May.

May 4, 2012

COLOGNE: COLASEL - PERFORMATIVE SPACES

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Alfons Knogl, Der Grosse Comfort; Pedro Wirz in collaboration with Jürg Stäuble MIN, GUÊ and DUNI of UNI-DUNI-TÊ-SALAME-MIN-GUÊ; David Jablonowski, Tchogha Zanbil (Azadi Tower), 2010; Rico Sacagliola / Michael Meier, Plants, Walls & Dreams; Matthieu Lavanchy Mr. Schuhlmann or the man in the high castle #3

 COLASEL (Cologne / Basel) the current exhibit at Drei unites seven artists, who explore the performativity of space, the interaction of object, interiority and solid borders. Sculptures, photos, installations curiously test the integrity of architecture and human being. Matthieu Lavanchy's retro-styled photography Mr. Schuhlmann or the man in the high castle #3 seemingly maps a traditional couch corner with red yarn, framing a dusty feel. Like a trace of rituals made visible, the plain lines occupy the old-fashioned room like a spider net. Pedro Wirz's and Jürg Stäuble's collaboration piece MIN, GUÊ and DUNI of UNI-DUNI-TÊ-SALAME-MIN-GUÊ - a wooden installation - works the opposite way and makes the solid object become alive and flexible. Each artistic position presents a different thought on how to re-think and re-stage rooms. This is especially interesting, since the show will - programatically and with new artistic positions - move to another location and tour to Basel in the project space Van Horbourg. A good chance to consider the relevance of site-specificity...