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Berlin Gallery Weekend: What we saw, what we liked, what we hated

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The gallery weekend in Berlin is gone, leaving us all with a sweet feeling of pleasant surprise but also some mild sour aftertaste.

For all those (including me) who thought that two days would be enough and only planned their journey to Berlin for just the weekend, I can share the bitter truth that it was more than insufficient time to enjoy and absorb the grand variety of aesthetics, space engineering and color that I encountered in the venues. For all of you who are based in Berlin, don’t forget to check out the rest of the galleries you missed since most of the exhibitions will be on display for another one or two months.

I will start my narration by commenting on the sad fact that as an ignorant art lover, you might get the impression that the only galleries which will have new work exhibited during the weekend are the ones who are listed on the official website of the event. Whatsoever, you MUST know that almost all galleries of Berlin are –unofficially- part of the event with special openings, performances and events. What I mean to say at this point is that on my way to the most ‘famous’ galleries, I came across various descent galleries or even super galleries, which are more than worthy to be mentioned in this article. Therefore, I want to prepare my audience for not just the mainstream stuff but also for some other stuff you should definitely check out if you hit the hype gallery streets of Berlin.

So enough with the babbling; Let’s start.

If you really like figurative patchwork expressionism and pop culture, you should definitely pass by Magic Beans Gallery and their amazing running exhibition Dawn of Tomorrow by artists Abetz & Drescher. The exhibition features large scale paintings which draw their inspiration from Gods in the form of superstars on the foreground and neoclassical or even ancient motifs on the background. What comes to accomplish the amazing composition is the abundant feast of colors which bring the work to a whole new level. A very interesting concept with quite some hard work on the technique plus very friendly people working there. Not to be missed.

 

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Magic Beans Gallery Photo taken by Vanessa Souli

 

If you liked Magic Beans (which you will) don’t skip Jannine Bean gallery with its interesting surreal ‘patchwork’ paintings by Grigori Dor and don’t forget to ask for the work of Kathrin Gunter who deals with magic and pop culture – a fabulous combination. Also ask her to show you the Celebrity Tarot.

Another not-to-be-missed is the projection by South African artist Candice Breitz at KOW Gallery. The main video installation is accompanied by a 2-minute video on the top floor of the gallery which features similar work by the artist. I was quite impressed by the people attending the main exhibition. The video was very well made and indeed spoke to the hearts of most of us. People in the gallery seemed to enjoy the screening very much while the space was full of life by the inquiring visitors.

 

KOW Gallery Photo taken by Vanessa Souli

 

Art Von Frei offered a nice and aesthetically subtle exhibition showcasing the great and forgotten technique of watercolor, curated by Peter Ungeheuer. Besides its small size and very recent opening (two years ago), Art Von Frei seems to have a bright future ahead with the distinct selection of artworks and innovative media. Into the Deep End is a group exhibition of male artists only, with watercolor artworks only and five framed works – only. The exhibition continues further into the second part of the gallery… in the deep end of the main aisle.

 

 

Courtesy of Art von Frei Gallery, Otavio Schipper and Wolfgang Lugmair (KWADRAT)
Photography: © Maria Nitulescu, 2017

Another gallery I would like to recommend which was also not listed on the main event is Alfred Ehrhardt Stiftung with the contemporary exhibition of big scale prints by artist Michael Najjar. The artist deals with the planetary system and its relation to our own earth and “visualizes natural extraterrestrial environments that have a sublime and strangely familiar appearance- but are in fact synthetic constructions of not-too-distant future reality”. Interesting.

Park life by Brian Lotti and Jean Jullien’s Flat Out positively took me aback on my spontaneous venture into the gallery HVW8. Flat out presents steel, life-sized figure sculptures in innovative shapes while Park Life paintworks brings the Los Angeles aura to Berlin with an undertone of abstraction.

 

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Gallery HVW8 Photo taken by Vanessa Souli

 

Martin Mertens offered a nice overview of landscape painting with a Japanese touch by artist Yuka Kashihara. Finally, I would like to recommend you Hošek Contemporary which brings in artists from Czech Republic and Slovakia; a quite interesting phenomenon for the Berlin art scene. The gallery currently features Czech artist Matyas Malac and his work on the investigation of a material object of inspiration in the age of digital technologies.

During my stay in Berlin, I also had the chance to visit Museum Barberini which I would definitely recommend if you are the museum type; with works by the great masters of Modernism and Impressionism, the museum is a good catch up with modern art history. Although I had to wait for a couple of hours to get into the exhibition rooms and it was very crowded, the new museum is a good example of renovated architecture and nice facilities.

 

Barberini Museum Photo taken by Vanessa Souli

 

On the other side, a quite neutral encounter have been the running exhibitions of KW and HKW where I felt that I missed the point in search of a knowledgeable framework to catch up with the messages of the works. In the case of KW and the exhibition by Wilson, Ellimar and Pendleton I missed the genuine distribution of work in the space and a clear interpretation. The same goes for HKW where I missed the context and the curatorial idea in the case of 2 oder 3 Tiger and also the ‘“Misfits”: Lose Blätter aus der…’ where there was an atmosphere of  merely assembling objects in the space.

I also felt quite ‘mehhh’ by the conceptual exhibition by Eigen+Art where I expected more of a brain drain in the form of intellectual synthesis. 

In any case, enjoy!