28 September 2012

BERLIN: COULD IT BE LOVE?

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From the top: Letizia Romanini 'Mat der Nues beilaafen', Maria Anwander 'The Kiss', Max Mertens 'Affection', Kay Walkowiak 'Ich, Ich'; images by artfridge and Grimuseum, Berlin

Love - the most beautiful phenomenon in the world that humans still aren't capable to describe with words. Music, poetry, theatre and art, on the other hand, often come much closer to what remains unspeakable. In their touring group show 'Kann es Liebe sein?', the curators Nora Mayr and Gilles Neiens have got themselves inspired by singer Falco and actress Desirée Nosbusch's 80s duet of the same title and indulged themselves in the peculiar and rather stiff anti-romanticism of 80s-aesthetics.
Symbols, longings, pain and kitsch - love's common associations are played out by 11 artists, exploring the phenomenon from different angles, suggesting however a constant alteration between serious affection and complete naivety. This naivety, as we all remember it from our first school-crush, is fantastically evoked in Letizia Romanini's installation 'Mat der Nues beilaafen' (2009), which displays a huge black spot on the wall and, underneath, a large pile of paper aeroplanes whose front edges were dipped in ink. But Romanini's work similarly reminds of the time, which usually comes right after the first school-crush: obsession, love-sickness, despair.
Other pieces approach the paradoxes of intimacy and distance, such as Max Merten's two cheesy chandeliers, which are entwined around each other, reacting with rotations to a movement sensor, as soon as a visitor passes the 'Affection' installation. Christodoulos Panayiotou's video 'Slow Dance Marathon' (2005) goes in a similar direction, however, with its melodramatic love songs and dull countryside backgrounds, the video is also critiquing our overrated media-manipulated expectation from love and its side-effects.
Even though one can't do anything but fail trying to explain what love could possibly be, Mayr and Neiens did an applaudable curatorial job, introducing and juxtaposing contemporary positions, out of which most have so far been quite unknown in Berlin. 
Let's raise our glasses to love.

26 September 2012

BERLIN: SUBLIM KURSIV

Robert Montgomery - The City is Wilder Than You Think and Kinder Than You Think (Recycled Sunlight Poem) (2011) Imi Knoebel_Anima Mundi 6-3 Junior Toscanelli_ Cafaggio - Himmelfahrt1Markus Keibel 1_ Marx  Engels ausgewählte Werke Band 1-6 Douglas Gordon_ Self Portrait of You + Me (Wilhelm Furtwängler 03) und Self Portrait of You + Me (Wilhelm Furtwängler 02)
From the top: Robert Montgomery, 'The City is Wilder Than You Think and Kinder Than You Think (Recycled Sunlight Poem)'; Imi Knoebel, 'Anima Mundi 6-3'; Junior Toscanelli, 'Cafaggio - Himmelfahrt'; Markus Keibel, 'Marx  Engels ausgewählte Werke Band 1-6'; Douglas Gordon, 'Self Portrait of You + Me (Wilhelm Furtwängler 03) und Self Portrait of You + Me (Wilhelm Furtwängler 02)', images by artfridge and epicentro art, Berlin

Last week the curator and Berlin-based gallery owner Anna Jill Lüpertz invited the public to her new group show sublime kursiv. Following the mobile concept of her project room AJLART, which aims to display art at various places around the city, she now chose Marc Fiedler’s gallery space Epicentro Artspace that is based in one of the monumental socialist buildings at the boulevard of Karl-Marx Strasse in Berlin Mitte. The show presents a high volume of well known artists, such as Ralf Ziervogel, Christian Boltanski, Douglas Gordon or Robert Montgomery. Such a gathering of prestigious artists sometimes seems to leave the curatorial work behind – not so this time. Anna Jill Lüpertz did a great job in combining and opposing the different point of views and made sure that the focus was on the art itself, rather than interlacing them in an overall concept. Although the artists’ names are well known, there pieces didn’t fail to surprise.

24 September 2012

STOSCHEK'S FLAMING CREATURES

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From the top: video still Mike Kelley, 2x installation views Bruce Nauman, photo montage by Ed Ruscha, video still and site-specific video installation by Ryan Trecartin, video K-CoreaINC.K by Ryan Trecartin, installation by Lizzie Fitch and Ryan Trecartin, hallway with works and video still by Paul McCarthy, all images by artfridge, courtesy Julia Stoschek Collection

In the backyard of an inconspicuous office building lies the realm of media-art-collector Julia Stoschek: Restored by the architects Kühn Malvezzi, a shut-down factory serves as an accommodation for her private space and her art collection. Stoschek's sixth exhibition, titled 'Flaming Creatures' after Jack Smith's scandal film from 1963, displays the works of 14 artists, whose coherence was developed around the concept of 'camp'. 'Camp', as Susan Sontag has put it, is a “love of the unnatural: of artifice and exaggeration” - it is flashy and alienating. A burning circus, in every way...

21 September 2012

ARTIST WATCH: PATRICK NIEMANN

Patrick Niemann Galerie Chaplini on artfridge.de patrick niemann, die bedeutung von nichts ist etwas  2012 p.n.   vg bild Patrick Niemann Galerie Chaplini on artfridge.de Patrick Niemann Galerie Chaplini on artfridge.dePatrick Niemann Galerie Chaplini on artfridge.de   patrick niemann, manche wunden heilen-manche bleiben fuer immer!  2012 p.n.   vg bild
all images courtesy Patrick Niemann and Chaplini Gallery, Cologne

A couple of days ago I visited Chaplini Gallery in Cologne to see their current group show 'Where were you when it happened?' and discovered the hilarious drawings by Berlin-based artist Patrick Niemann. Having studied at Kunstakademie Düsseldorf under Prof. Albert Oehlen, Niemann's humor and cynicism resembles his former class-mates. Specifically the drawings' titles are worth a closer look: 'Asi mit Niveau' (Anti-Social dude with niveau), 'Die Bedeutung von Nichts ist Etwas' (The meaning of Nothing is Something) and - my favourite - The cow with a boner 'Käptn Rinderherz Arterienverkalkung ist geheilt' seriously confronts me with one of the hardest translation I have ever done, but I'll give it a shot: Captain Cow-Heart's arteriosclerosis is healed. That says it all - doesn't it?
Have a happy weekend!

20 September 2012

BERLIN ART WEEK: BERLINER LISTE

Lluis Artus 2_ Barcelona Adriana Korkos2_Tai-Po_Hong Kong Inga Altenkirch_Subjekt Objekt_Berlin Santiago Villanueva_Alicia Winters Gallery_Arnheim NL Leszek Skurski_Red Corridor Gallery_Fulda Michael Luther_Berlin 2012-09-14 17.29.47
From the top: Lluis Artus; Adriana Korkos; Inga Altenkirch; Santiago Villanueva; Leszek Skurski; Michael Luther; Berliner Liste Lounge area; images by artfridge

During the recent art week in Berlin I made a stop at Köpenicker Straße, checking out Berliner Liste. As Berlin’s oldest and biggest art fair, Berliner Liste is already an established part of the city’s art world and showed the largest amount of national and international galleries during last week. I was mostly captivated by the colossal location, which is housed in what was formerly the main central-heating power station for East Berlin. It combines a huge rusty space with an aesthetic arrangement of booths, bars and food areas that were enlightened by beautiful chandeliers lying on the ground, while light flooded panels of blue fabric were running next to the gallery spaces. 
Although Michael Luther’s large scale oil painting “Colourado” had been chosen to adorn the entrance hall of the exhibition as one of the officially promoted pieces of the fair, I was more convinced by his smaller and subtle paintings. A great appearance was made by subject object gallery (Berlin), not only because of their unconventional hangings but also due to the great figurative paintings by Inga Altenkirch and Uliane Borchert. While Leszek Skurski from Red Corridor Gallery (Fulda) made a lasting impression with the luminous vastness of his snow-white scenarios, a more minimalist and also rare approach was made by the sculptures of Santiago Villanueva from Alicia Winters Gallery (Arnheim). In addition to the other art fairs there seems to be a definite trend towards a more figurative and representational art, whereas video art and abstract sculptures appeared to be an absolute minority. 

15 September 2012

ART WEEK BERLIN: PREVIEW

Alejandro Tobón_LEM-ART_Medellin_ photos by artfridge.de Alejandro Tobón_LEM-ART_Medellin 1Alejandro Tobón_LEM-ART_Medellin_ photos by artfridge.de José F. Munoz_LEM-ART_MedellinAlejandro Tobón_LEM-ART_Medellin_ photos by artfridge.de Benedikt Richert_Galerie LUX BerlinAlejandro Tobón_LEM-ART_Medellin_ photos by artfridge.de Femke Dekkers_Galerie Bart_AmsterdamAlejandro Tobón_LEM-ART_Medellin_ photos by artfridge.de Matthias Harman_ASPN Galerie LeipzigAlejandro Tobón_LEM-ART_Medellin_ photos by artfridge.de Paul Werner_Burg Giebichtenstein Kunsthochschule HalleAlejandro Tobón_LEM-ART_Medellin_ photos by artfridge.de Wilhelm Klotzek_Weissensee Kunsthochschule BerlinAlejandro Tobón_LEM-ART_Medellin_ photos by artfridge.de
From the top: Booth LEM-ART, Medellin, Columbia: 2x Alejandro Tobón and painting by José F. Munoz; Booth Galerie LUX Berlin: Benedikt Richert; Booth Galerie Bart, Amsterdam: Femke Dekkers; Booth ASPN Galerie Leipzig: Matthias Harman; Booth Burg Giebichtenstein, Kunsthochschule Halle: Paul Werner: Booth Weissensee Kunsthochschule Berlin: Wilhelm Klotzek; all images by artfridge

The Preview Berlin Art Fair has again opened its doors on time for the beginning of this year’s art autumn. Based in a hangar of the former Tempelhof airport, the extensive rustic space offers a grand surrounding for a set up of contemporary art galleries that is mainly dominated by German exhibitors. Thus, Preview enables some of the most important art schools over here to display their works: Akademie für Malerei Berlin, Hochschule für Gestaltung Offenbach, UdK Berlin, Kunsthochschule Kassel and Weißensee Kunsthochschule Berlin.
I was happy to see some works by young artists, such as the little wood-stilt and wood balls by Alejandro Tobón and José F. Munoz' paintings of urban areas in bird's perspective. Both of them are represented by the Columbian gallery LEM-ART. Also Femke Dekkers abstract geometrical paintings and Wilhelm Klotzek's video installation were striking. However, the overall impression of this year’s Preview did not fully meet my taste. The booth arrangement is rather conventional and the genre is mainly restricted to classical paintings and plastic sculptures that - unfortunately - often seemed more vulgar than tasteful - I would have hoped for a more contemporary and less familiar program. Especially after seeing ABC, Preview somewhat turns out to be Art Week Berlin's sore spot. Doors are still open till Sunday the 16th.

13 September 2012

ART WEEK BERLIN: ABC

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From the top: Booth Galerie Christophe Gaillard, Paris: Isabelle Le Minh; Booth Klosterfelde, Berlin: Dan Peterman; Booth Krome Gallery, Berlin and Galleria Fonti Neapel: Lorenzo Scotto Di Luzio; Booth Galerie EIGEN + ART, Berlin: Birgit Brenner; Booth Aurel Scheibler, Berlin: Neil Gall; Booth Tim Van Laere Gallery, Antwerp: Kati Heck; Booth Galerie Crone, Berlin: Norbert Bisky; Booth Wentrup, Berlin: Florian Meisenberg; Booth neugerriemschneider, Berlin: Thaddeus Strode; Booth Sprüth Magers, Berlin/London: Michail Pirgelis; Booth 2P Contemporary Art Hong Kong: Yotaro Niwa; Booth Anselm Dreher, Berlin: John Armleder; Booth Blank Projects, Cape Town: James Webb; photos by Lars B. Petersen and Anneli Botz

This year’s abc art berlin contemporary is off to a good start for the upcoming days: As opposed to the years before, where galleries where asked to respond to a general concept, they now had the chance to present one single position of their repertoire of artists. This concentration pays off: The booths seem less overloaded but more focused and elaborated. Instead of a strict trade fair structure the galleries are arranged in open spaces which generates an unrestrictive, creative atmosphere. The open minded curatorial ambition of the organizing abc team corresponds well with the wide range of international artists and genres displayed at the fair. It was nice to see that many galleries decided to take a chance and use the event to show rather unknown and upcoming artists: Galerie Thomas Fischer exhibits the simplistic works by young Marcel Frey, which seem inspired by the minimalist design of the 80s, but are nonetheless a novelty itself. Berlin-based artist Hugo Canolias is represented by the Italian Galleria Collicaligreggi with one of his large and colour-intensive panels of fabric. Japanese Yotaro Niwa has made some impression with his wood installation that plays aesthetically with the viewer’s conception of stability. Of course some of the more established positions don’t fail to convince either, like Douglas Gordon’s hanging installation of oversized glasses, or Dan Peterman’s cheese tent that won’t go unnoticed to many, also because of the already intense scent evaporating from its inside.
This year’s abc: overall a refreshing cross-section of contemporary art worldwide that is definitely worth a visit.