The last weeks were busy with attending all sorts of exhibitions. Some i wrote about, one i held the opening speech at, others were merely scouting expeditions. Surely, in Berlin, one is always looking out not only for talents, but also for the not so well known. Surprising enough – with thousands if not ten of thousands of contemporary artists in this town -that it is not so easy to find real potential. To be fair a lot of this „looking around“ business is up to your personal taste, the rest is the potential in discours or the conceptional depth, which is appealing if you are actually working with artists and their work on a day to day basis.
Anyways, here we go with some interesting artists i do think are worth having a look at and some recent exhibitions for those of you who happen to be in Berlin the next weeks.
Erdglas by Tue Greenfort – Berlinische Galerie
Tue Greenfort is what you could call a „environmental“ artist. His work is circled around sustainibility, the human concept of nature and our tendency to anthropomorphise evrything that we experience and perceive. So it is somehow logical that he was awarded the GASAG Art price 2012 (GASAG is the local gas-company that is supplying most of Berlin). Some might call it greenwashing, but art prices by companies are necessarily a PR driven spin – which the artists are aware of. In his installation Greenfort therefore also discusses his role in this double-edged situation. For the work he uses Glass, Gas (in form of old gas-lanterns that are used in some parts of Berlin till today and an experimental small methan-gas producing construction on biological basis, actually organic material from the bear cage in the Berlin Zoo). Overall it is a quite complex game of allusives, denotations and crossreferences some might find a bit overcomplex, i certainly enjoyed it a lot. For a more detailed critique read my article in TIP (in german).
„…und dann gehen einem plötzlich die Augen auf“ (and than you suddenly open your eyes), Irma Markulin & Elke Graalfs, Galerie M
Far away from the usual art areas, the gallery M is located in the Berlin quarter of Marzahn deep in the former east. Mostly consisting of the so called Plattenbauten, east german housing complexes you might know from Alexanderplatz and other formerly eastern inner city regions, Marzahn really stands as a symbol for this kind of architecture, because it is so present in the quarter. Plattenbauten are overly functional, aesthetically minimal buildings derived from the Bauhaus movement and the need for rather cheap „social“ housing projects. A lot of these buildings were (and some still are) ornamented by mosaiques, either abstract or figurative, most of them now gone after the renovations of these buildings following the fall of the wall. These „mosaiques“ are the source of inspiration for the works of both artists. While Elke Graalfs repeatingly painted a abstracted tree in the manner of a knitted pullover directly on the galleries walls, Irma Markulin used photographs of now lost „mosaiques“ that are published in a book for her paintings, that are installed as a cubus. Visiting this exhibition is for the most of us also an exoedition into a part of Berlin, one may not have been to yet – so take your time and have a look around this unique eastern quarter too.
Ernst ist erst der Anfang (earnesty is only the beginning), open studio
Open studio, that is always a delight. Not only is the artists studio a nearly mythical place, you also tend to see works in a more „domestic“ athmosphere as if you were to see them in the usual white cube. Also very important: the artist might just stand next to you and you grab a beer and talk with him about his work in a relaxed and rather easy-going setting, with other artists hanging around, some non.art related friends trying to figure things out, young collectors or art buyers dripping thorugh to take a peek at what might be a good (and rather inexpensive) catch. Besides an artist friend of mine, who is a very talented painter – Johanna Silbermann – who invited me, i had the most fortunate opportunity to have a first time look at the work of Kazuki Nakahara, a japanese drawer, whose works are exceptionally good.
Funkhaus Nalepastraße – Studio circuit
Well, the Funkhaus in Nalepastraße is worth a visit itself. Magnificent building just besides the banks of the river Spree, gigantic, kind of early 30ties style. Usually known for Parties and concerts, there are studios for artists, illustrators and small businesses in the vast building too. Again invited by a friend, Boris Duhm, who just moved in to a new studio at the Funkhaus, i se out with my girlfriend saturday just after noon to explore the situation. It was my first time at the Funkhaus and the architecture is surely impressive (as is the sheer size of the buildings), even more startling are the interiors, leftovers from a long lost time (50ies and seventies, a lot of wood-panels, a colourfully painted Trabbi when you enter through the entrance leading to the studios). As always, the artists displaying their works and their workplace are all different and have their own approaches to things, which always makes these tours interesting and exhausting at the same time, because you do have to adjust quite harshly from one studio to another to a totally new line of work, medium, idea.
And sometimes you find something awesome. Just like the works of Joachim Seinfeld, photographer, who has a most ironic way of dealing with the – mostly sad – german history in his series „Wenn deutsche lustig sind“ (When germans are funny).
Also a very nice find – and so unusual for Berlin that you at first think: what is that? – Water colour conceptual abstract landscapes entitled lost memories by French artist Denis van Baren.