May 3, 2015

Gallery Weekend Berlin: Behind The Scenes

Isn’t the gala society section the most fun part of a lifestyle magazine? Com’on, art people, admit it: it’s the very first thing you look for when reading Monopol. Who was invited to the latest art party and what were they wearing? So to satisfy your needs I did some party hopping after the gallery hopping and we’ll start with that. On Wednesday evening my friend Fabio took me to the party of Die Welt, celebrating its newest art magazine BLAU in a fancy Kurfürstendamm apartment. The food was great, there was even a surreal moment with opera-singing. The downside was that it was full with German art people, which means that the dress code was black and boring. Only US artist Sanford Biggers, currently a fellow of the American Academy, was standing out with a yellow sweater, which was quite refreshing. Fabio and I got a real kick out of talking to random people, because, without exception, they would surprise you by being a curator of some famous collection, the photo editor of some big shot magazine, or the interior designer of glamorous apartments. Fabio kept pinching me when I introduced myself as an art blogger - he claimed that it’s not a decent profession, uhu. I got a little tipsy so I totally forgot to take home the new art magazine, haha, which was the purpose of the whole damn event. I can just tell you that if you can judge books by their cover, then trust me: no avant-garde will be discovered here soon. Cornelius Tittel, who I actually do admire for his critical article on the Ai Weiwei exhibition at Martin Gropius Bau, told me that he wrote something critical about celebrity curator Hans Ulrich Obrist in the introduction of BLAU. Well, Cornelius Tittel, trashing Obrist is not really starting a revolution anymore: he's so 2014. I went to a few other events and I can tell you that the risotto at Ristorante Sale e Tabacchi was not well cooked and lacked herbs but Miami people are so entertaining that they totally make up for the disillusioning food on the table. And: shrimps are the trending thing to eat at art events - they were literally everywhere I went. 

Katharina Grosse at St. Agnes, Johann König Galerie

So far for the fun part - now let’s start with the serious business of art criticism. I joined two friends gallery hopping on Friday and Saturday and they happen to have those kind of sharp minds that only need one word to nail it down. Glancing upon Katharina Grosse’s enormous canvasses in St. Agnes, the impressive church-place of Johann König, they said “1980s”. (By the way: the downstair space was terribly curated - I suggest video for the next shows there.) We then realized that we had skipped neighboring PRAXES but my friends shrugged their shoulders while sighing “pedantic”. We finished the Friday night tour at Veneklasen/Werner where I met a Flemish friend who totally hit it off with artist Eliott Hundley - both fascinated by the sketches of Rubens, and it’s true that Eliott Hundley’s paintings and sculptures have a hang for the baroque. I forgot to mention that we started our Friday tour at Salon Dahlmann, which was a quite beautiful show on Poetic Minimalism.

Flemish admirer of Eliott Hundley's paintings at Veneklasen/Werner

On Saturday I was surprised to find myself yawning in front of Roman Ondak’s newest art work at Johnen Galerie. It seems to me that Ondak is not developing anymore but using the same old tricks and it’s just starting to get boring. At Galerie Neu, Karl Holmqvist finished his press text about Klara Lidén's art pieces with: “They look plain yet offer one plenty of things to think about.” So we tried a little harder, but nope: nothing came up in our splendid minds, not even one word. Yet we were very happy at our next stop: Galerie Neugerriemschneider. Renata Lucas’ in situ intervention in the space is simple and complex, making one fountain out of three historical fountains in Berlin. We got a little euphoric about seeing a good art piece - you can imagine. Then we went off to see the Cyprien Gaillard show at Sprüth Magers, who, as somebody told me the night before, is the most overrated artist of the moment. I can just say that fireworks in 3D are always entertaining and when we left the space we felt as if we had visited an entertainment park. 

Renata Lucas at Neugerriemschneider 

Then it was time to head over to the Potsdamer Straße quarter. At Esther Shipper we saw an art work that felt like a Cyprien Gaillard but it was made with a smaller budget. Upstairs there was a Haegue Yang show at Wien Lukatsch and the straw sculptures were just plain ugly. In the courtyard of the Tagesspiegel building we had a strong espresso before we headed over to Thomas Fischer Galerie, where you can always count on an elegant display - this time with artist Friedemann Heckel. We skipped 401contemporary because we all agreed it’s always stuffed with the same stuff. I no longer remember what Plan B was about: it involved some material... At Blain⎢Southern I saw a show that worked splendidly with the amazing space - finally, it’s been two years at least. François Morellet, who just turned 89, is a discovery for me - 3D finds its true form here. We skipped Guido W. Baudach (shrug), didn’t understand Helga Maria Klosterfeld Edition (puzzled), and it was at Tanya Leighton that my friends uttered their last words, which actually almost took on the form of a whole sentence: “a show curated for Christmas presents.” 

François Morellet at Blain ⎢Southern

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