Gallery Hopping: Increased Pleasure

May 8, 2019

Little O and I at Blain Southern. Photo: Akane Kimbara

What does art do? A lot of times when looking at art in galleries, it doesn't do much to me. I can acknowledge its statement, its message, its price, its "importance,"  etc. but that's about it. So it was exceptionally last Saturday when I was gallery hopping that I felt thrilled a few times. To be "excited in breath and heart", as 19th art critic Vernon Lee wrote in her Gallery Diaries, is a very pleasurable experience. To experience increased pleasure in times when art is supposed to teach you a lesson and be useful, seems almost wrong. But my friend W. told me it's because good art opens up something inside. 

I started at Asta Gröting's show in Carlier Gebauer. I know her work quite well and it's always executed to perfection. One common characteristic of Asta's work is that she brings the inside to the outside - like the bullet holes in WWII-facades, or, and this was my favourite, the digestive organs from... - it didn't say from what but I like to think from something big like a whale. 


Asta Gröting at Carlier Gebauer

New to me was the next stop at Blain Southern: big Indeterminate Line Sculptures by the French artist Bernar Venet, exhibited in the huge hall. It was a pleasure for the eye. To twist the material of steel like this, to play around with it and to make it almost frivolously curl seemed quite an optimistic act to me. Upstairs were beautiful drawings and Continuous Curves sculptures, curving their way through square space. There was something lived through about these sculptures, something that most art lacks because it's only the result of a quick top of the head idea. Like the gimmicky art of Ryan Gander at Esther Schipper. Ryan Gander has gotten too slick, probably under the pressure of a well-oiled machine like Esther Schipper. But then, nothing really can look good in that space. The downstairs clothing store manages to look better. 







Bernar Venet at Blain Southern

My favourite gallery in town is Plan B. It has been featuring great shows lately, always beautifully curated and accompanied with a nice booklet. Often also discoveries, at least for me. Horia Damian is now on show with the utopian galaxies that he drew, painted, and sometimes also realised as sculptures. My favourite was a painting of a sculpture he wanted to install at San Francisco Art Institute. It was intended to conserve the sunlight. SFAI could have used that now its reputation is downhill.  


At Plan B with my favourite painting on the back wall



Little O and I at Barbara Thumm. Photo: Akane Kimbara

I then realised, in the middle of Potsdamer Straße, that I had missed out on Fiona Banner's exhibition at Galerie Barbara Thumm, next to Carlier Gebauer. So I went all the way back and it was worth it. Inflatable sculptures might be the thing to do lately but Fiona Banner's inflatable full stops were just great. The big black dots were not drifting in the space but motionless exerting their weight. On the walls were small paintings and copies of etchings depicting the British Chanel. After all the Brexit talk, one couldn't imagine an artist doing something playful about it, plus using fantasy, but Fiona Banner does.

PS: I also checked out the small salon table sculptures of Jorinde Voigt at Klosterfelde, of course in the color gold. Again, I had the impression I could make a great set of earrings out of Voigt's work. I went by Tanja Wagner but it wasn't my thing. And at Tanya Leighton I didn't even go inside after glancing through the windows. And oh ja, almost forgot about König. The video piece by Camille Henrot is okay, and I'm not into the Leizpiger painting stuff from Matthias Weischer. 






What does art do? A lot of times when looking at art in galleries, it doesn't do much to me. I can acknowledge its statement, its message, its price, its "importance,"  etc. but that's about it. So it was exceptionally last Saturday when I was gallery hopping that I felt thrilled a few times. To be "excited in breath and heart", as 19th art critic Vernon Lee wrote in her Gallery Diaries, is a very pleasurable experien…
Little O and I at Blain Southern. Photo: Akane Kimbara

What does art do? A lot of times when looking at art in galleries, it doesn't do much to me. I can acknowledge its statement, its message, its price, its "importance,"  etc. but that's about it. So it was exceptionally last Saturday when I was gallery hopping that I felt thrilled a few times. To be "excited in breath and heart", as 19th art critic Vernon Lee wrote in her Gallery Diaries, is a very pleasurable experience. To experience increased pleasure in times when art is supposed to teach you a lesson and be useful, seems almost wrong. But my friend W. told me it's because good art opens up something inside. 

I started at Asta Gröting's show in Carlier Gebauer. I know her work quite well and it's always executed to perfection. One common characteristic of Asta's work is that she brings the inside to the outside - like the bullet holes in WWII-facades, or, and this was my favourite, the digestive organs from... - it didn't say from what but I like to think from something big like a whale. 


Asta Gröting at Carlier Gebauer

New to me was the next stop at Blain Southern: big Indeterminate Line Sculptures by the French artist Bernar Venet, exhibited in the huge hall. It was a pleasure for the eye. To twist the material of steel like this, to play around with it and to make it almost frivolously curl seemed quite an optimistic act to me. Upstairs were beautiful drawings and Continuous Curves sculptures, curving their way through square space. There was something lived through about these sculptures, something that most art lacks because it's only the result of a quick top of the head idea. Like the gimmicky art of Ryan Gander at Esther Schipper. Ryan Gander has gotten too slick, probably under the pressure of a well-oiled machine like Esther Schipper. But then, nothing really can look good in that space. The downstairs clothing store manages to look better. 







Bernar Venet at Blain Southern

My favourite gallery in town is Plan B. It has been featuring great shows lately, always beautifully curated and accompanied with a nice booklet. Often also discoveries, at least for me. Horia Damian is now on show with the utopian galaxies that he drew, painted, and sometimes also realised as sculptures. My favourite was a painting of a sculpture he wanted to install at San Francisco Art Institute. It was intended to conserve the sunlight. SFAI could have used that now its reputation is downhill.  


At Plan B with my favourite painting on the back wall



Little O and I at Barbara Thumm. Photo: Akane Kimbara

I then realised, in the middle of Potsdamer Straße, that I had missed out on Fiona Banner's exhibition at Galerie Barbara Thumm, next to Carlier Gebauer. So I went all the way back and it was worth it. Inflatable sculptures might be the thing to do lately but Fiona Banner's inflatable full stops were just great. The big black dots were not drifting in the space but motionless exerting their weight. On the walls were small paintings and copies of etchings depicting the British Chanel. After all the Brexit talk, one couldn't imagine an artist doing something playful about it, plus using fantasy, but Fiona Banner does.

PS: I also checked out the small salon table sculptures of Jorinde Voigt at Klosterfelde, of course in the color gold. Again, I had the impression I could make a great set of earrings out of Voigt's work. I went by Tanja Wagner but it wasn't my thing. And at Tanya Leighton I didn't even go inside after glancing through the windows. And oh ja, almost forgot about König. The video piece by Camille Henrot is okay, and I'm not into the Leizpiger painting stuff from Matthias Weischer. 






Travel Essay in Art: Tenerife

May 6, 2019





It’s Easter but my friend says she lives on a holiday island, which means that the shops are always open. 

On small islands people don’t ask you “Where you’re from?” or “What do you do?” but rather: “De quien eres?” 

There is a beach called El Socorro in Tenerife. When my friend visited the beach, a safeguard came immediately running up to her. She was told not to take a swim. 

In Garachico, an old seaport town up in the north of Tenerife, we see the flower strelitzia, the Bird of Paradise plant. The flower is the symbol of Tenerife: it needs a lot of sunshine. 

Islands mostly have some ghosts wandering around. Apparently there are some on Suomenlinna where I spent time last November but I was only told so after my stay. I’m sure I would have experienced some if only I had known to look out for them. In Tenerife it’s said you can take a ghost tour everywhere but especially in La Laguna, a town near Santa Cruz, that was build on swamps. In a 16th century house the ghost of Catalina still wanders around. Catalina is said to have committed suicide by jumping down the well rather than to marry an elderly man. 

“Why is it so windy?” I ask my friend. “Because it’s an island on the sea,” she answers. 




There are the famous dragon trees on Tenerife, El Drago, 650 to 3000 years old. El Drago got its name because of its red colored resin. It’s said to be dried dragon blood that has healing properties. 

Tenerife has even a sauce to represent itself: red and green “mojo.” 

Friends of my friend decided to rent an Airbnb in a beach town in the South. But they were disappointed. The windows that had been promised to look out on the ocean, were made of mirrored glass and especially in the evening, the only thing they saw, was themselves. 

My friend drinks Barraquito’s, a coffee made with sweet condense milk and Licor 43, a Spanish citrus based liqueur. It looks way too sweet to me and it’s only when reading up on it back home that I realize it’s traditionally Tenerife drink that can’t be found anywhere else. “Repeat daily until it’s time to head to the airport,” the blogpost says. Damn! Instead I drunk a lot of Dorada, the local beer in Tenerife. Holidays need to be spend in a bit of a daze. 

Apparently in the 1990s, when Tenerife was booming economically, there was this idea in Spain that every town needed some famous architect to come in to do a special cultural building. In Santa Cruz, Santiago Calatrava did the job, building the Auditorio de Tenerife that looks like a giant wave about to crush down on the city. At its café, we had a coffee, a tortilla and a zumo de naranja. 
I t’s Easter but my friend says she lives on a holiday island, which means that the shops are always open.  On small islands people don’t ask you “Where you’re from?” or “What do you do?” but rather: “De quien eres?”  There is a beach called El Socorro in Tenerife. When my friend visited the beach, a safeguard came immediately running up to her. She was told not to take a swim.  In Garachico, an old seaport town up in the north of Tenerife, we see t…




It’s Easter but my friend says she lives on a holiday island, which means that the shops are always open. 

On small islands people don’t ask you “Where you’re from?” or “What do you do?” but rather: “De quien eres?” 

There is a beach called El Socorro in Tenerife. When my friend visited the beach, a safeguard came immediately running up to her. She was told not to take a swim. 

In Garachico, an old seaport town up in the north of Tenerife, we see the flower strelitzia, the Bird of Paradise plant. The flower is the symbol of Tenerife: it needs a lot of sunshine. 

Islands mostly have some ghosts wandering around. Apparently there are some on Suomenlinna where I spent time last November but I was only told so after my stay. I’m sure I would have experienced some if only I had known to look out for them. In Tenerife it’s said you can take a ghost tour everywhere but especially in La Laguna, a town near Santa Cruz, that was build on swamps. In a 16th century house the ghost of Catalina still wanders around. Catalina is said to have committed suicide by jumping down the well rather than to marry an elderly man. 

“Why is it so windy?” I ask my friend. “Because it’s an island on the sea,” she answers. 




There are the famous dragon trees on Tenerife, El Drago, 650 to 3000 years old. El Drago got its name because of its red colored resin. It’s said to be dried dragon blood that has healing properties. 

Tenerife has even a sauce to represent itself: red and green “mojo.” 

Friends of my friend decided to rent an Airbnb in a beach town in the South. But they were disappointed. The windows that had been promised to look out on the ocean, were made of mirrored glass and especially in the evening, the only thing they saw, was themselves. 

My friend drinks Barraquito’s, a coffee made with sweet condense milk and Licor 43, a Spanish citrus based liqueur. It looks way too sweet to me and it’s only when reading up on it back home that I realize it’s traditionally Tenerife drink that can’t be found anywhere else. “Repeat daily until it’s time to head to the airport,” the blogpost says. Damn! Instead I drunk a lot of Dorada, the local beer in Tenerife. Holidays need to be spend in a bit of a daze. 

Apparently in the 1990s, when Tenerife was booming economically, there was this idea in Spain that every town needed some famous architect to come in to do a special cultural building. In Santa Cruz, Santiago Calatrava did the job, building the Auditorio de Tenerife that looks like a giant wave about to crush down on the city. At its café, we had a coffee, a tortilla and a zumo de naranja. 

Travel Essay in Art: Helsinki

May 2, 2019

Fishermen outside and writers inside


It’s nice to be in a city where you can hear the cawing of seagulls. 

In Finland, it’s herring season. The fishermen are standing close to each other on one side of the bridge. It's explained to me that their fishing position depends on how the wind comes in and out of the water. That's where the fish will swim.  

We’re discussing how nature is still the number one topic in art in Finland. Nature is expected to bring along depth to the art work, they tell me. 

Sometimes it's nice to turn things around, like: “Nature is killing us!” It’s left up to you if that points to human nature or not. 

On Saturday, it’s beautiful sunny weather in Helsinki. Suddenly the trees start to bloom. But summers are short in Finland. “The summer was nice and I actually enjoyed the whole day,” Liisa laughs.

Jonas Ekeberg, founder and chief editor of Kunstkritikk. Nordic Art Review, gives a talk at Sine Gallery. He says that the magazine pays 400 to 500 Euro for a “serious” art review. He also uses the words “judgement” as one of the five elements for a good art review and “authority” for his aim to recover the status of the art critic. So Kunstkritikk is probably not the hottest art magazine in town but for 400 to 500 Euro I’m happy to leave my silliness behind. 

Finnish art persons like to joke about the Norwegian art world, which is much better supported financially than theirs: “They don’t fart before they get funding.”

The Finnish language is beautiful and often escapes translation. Take the word “lāmpimāmpāā”, which means “warmer” when, for instance, one space is warmer than the other. 

Like everywhere in the world, also the Finnish make small talk about the weather. But apparently they say: “It has been weather”, which doesn’t mean that the weather has been good or bad but it’s just a way of saying nothing. 






It’s nice to be in a city where you can hear the cawing of seagulls.  In Finland, it’s herring season. The fishermen are standing close to each other on one side of the bridge. It's explained to me that their fishing position depends on how the wind comes in and out of the water. That's where the fish will swim.   We’re discussing how nature is still the number one topic in art in Finland. Nature is expected to bring along depth to the art…
Fishermen outside and writers inside


It’s nice to be in a city where you can hear the cawing of seagulls. 

In Finland, it’s herring season. The fishermen are standing close to each other on one side of the bridge. It's explained to me that their fishing position depends on how the wind comes in and out of the water. That's where the fish will swim.  

We’re discussing how nature is still the number one topic in art in Finland. Nature is expected to bring along depth to the art work, they tell me. 

Sometimes it's nice to turn things around, like: “Nature is killing us!” It’s left up to you if that points to human nature or not. 

On Saturday, it’s beautiful sunny weather in Helsinki. Suddenly the trees start to bloom. But summers are short in Finland. “The summer was nice and I actually enjoyed the whole day,” Liisa laughs.

Jonas Ekeberg, founder and chief editor of Kunstkritikk. Nordic Art Review, gives a talk at Sine Gallery. He says that the magazine pays 400 to 500 Euro for a “serious” art review. He also uses the words “judgement” as one of the five elements for a good art review and “authority” for his aim to recover the status of the art critic. So Kunstkritikk is probably not the hottest art magazine in town but for 400 to 500 Euro I’m happy to leave my silliness behind. 

Finnish art persons like to joke about the Norwegian art world, which is much better supported financially than theirs: “They don’t fart before they get funding.”

The Finnish language is beautiful and often escapes translation. Take the word “lāmpimāmpāā”, which means “warmer” when, for instance, one space is warmer than the other. 

Like everywhere in the world, also the Finnish make small talk about the weather. But apparently they say: “It has been weather”, which doesn’t mean that the weather has been good or bad but it’s just a way of saying nothing. 






SAVVY's HAND

April 15, 2019



Press texts can be so obnoxiously bad. I had to laugh when I read the first paragraph of SAVVY Contemporary that entered in my mailbox last week:

“How do we celebrate with one hand up in praise, and another hand up calling for attention to question and reprimand? [...] We at SAVVY Contemporary are bound to negotiate that in-between space, off the path paved by the canon,” explains Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung, founder and director of SAVVY Contemporary."

I was trying to imagine Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung standing like a pope with his one hand in praise and in his other hand wagging the finger while reprimanding. Such a pompous gesture and a totally shallow statement meaning nothing much but quoted as if it's the most radical thing that had been said in the 21st century. Adding to it, just for the sake of backing up the statement with authority: this important statement was made by the founder and director of SAVVY. The traditional power talk but one that is so-called intended to be off the canonical path. And the funny thing is that this is what the conventional art world loves. They love this shit. I just wish project spaces would be more critical of the language they use and the structures that underlie it. There is a lot that SAVVY could do by looking critically at its own workings.
Press texts can be so obnoxiously bad. I had to laugh when I read the first paragraph of SAVVY Contemporary that entered in my mailbox last week: “How do we celebrate with one hand up in praise, and another hand up calling for attention to question and reprimand? [...] We at SAVVY Contemporary are bound to negotiate that in-between space, off the path paved by the canon,” explains Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung, founder and director of SAVVY Cont…


Press texts can be so obnoxiously bad. I had to laugh when I read the first paragraph of SAVVY Contemporary that entered in my mailbox last week:

“How do we celebrate with one hand up in praise, and another hand up calling for attention to question and reprimand? [...] We at SAVVY Contemporary are bound to negotiate that in-between space, off the path paved by the canon,” explains Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung, founder and director of SAVVY Contemporary."

I was trying to imagine Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung standing like a pope with his one hand in praise and in his other hand wagging the finger while reprimanding. Such a pompous gesture and a totally shallow statement meaning nothing much but quoted as if it's the most radical thing that had been said in the 21st century. Adding to it, just for the sake of backing up the statement with authority: this important statement was made by the founder and director of SAVVY. The traditional power talk but one that is so-called intended to be off the canonical path. And the funny thing is that this is what the conventional art world loves. They love this shit. I just wish project spaces would be more critical of the language they use and the structures that underlie it. There is a lot that SAVVY could do by looking critically at its own workings.