art, Berlin, Life in Berlin

Gallery Weekend, Berlin

Friday 26th April to Sunday 28th April was Gallery Weekend – when galleries all over Berlin had exhibition openings. There were 51 official participants, but a lot of other galleries opened their doors to visitors during this time too, which was useful, because most Berlin galleries have random opening times. The Bavarian and I took a stroll down our favorite gallery-lined street in Mitte; Auguststrasse, and saw some fantastic art. Here are our highlights:

1. Silvia Gertsch and Xerxes Ach at Michael Fuchs Galerie

This exhibition is called Silent Moments – Cosmic Light, and they could not have chosen a better name.


Silvia Gershe”s works seem to emanate their own light, whether it be the glinting sun, or the glow of street lamps at dusk. They are placed behind glass, giving them a reflective, photo-like quality. In fact, her starting points are photos that she takes herself.

Xerxes Ach’s works are more abstract meditations on colour. They are beautiful, sensual, pure. The work of these two Swiss artists go together really well, and I was interested to find out that they are a couple.

Silent Moments – Cosmic Light is on at Michael Fuchs Galerie, Auguststrasse 11-13, 10117 Berlin until 1st June 2013.

2. Photography at CWC Gallery

Just downstairs from Silent Moments – Cosmic Light, is a photography exhibition at the CWC Gallery featuring more than 100 chosen works from seven prominent photographers; Helmut Newton, Jeanloup Sieff, Herb Ritts, Nick Brandt, Jean-Baptiste Huynh, Paulo Roversi and Yoram Roth.

It’s worth noting that all these photographers are men, and of these, four (Newton, Sieff, Roversi and Roth), have a strong focus on female body / erotica, so it’s a bit like being stuck between the covers of an artsier version of PlayBoy. However, relief is provided by Nick Brandt’s African panoramas, Jean-Baptiste Huynh’s portraits from around the world, and Ritts’ series of ballet dancers. It’s a rare treat to see so many high quality photos and famous images (including disturbing close-ups of Jack Nicholson as the “Joker” in Batman) in one place.

The exhibition is on at CWC Gallery, Auguststrasse 11-13, 10117 Berlin until 24th August 2013. Opening times: Tuesday – Saturday 11 a.m. – 7 p.m.

3. Mariana Vassileva at DNA

If you like contemporary art, DNA’s Fold & Break exhibition of Berlin-based Bulgarian artist Mariana Vassileva is for you. It features video, installation and sculpture. I particularly liked the way she uses everyday objects in unexpected ways with a minimal style. Check out the illuminated tree of shoes in the basement!

Fold & Break is on at DNA, Auguststraße 20, 10117 Berlin until 25 May 2013.tatafiore

4. The Drawings of Ernesto Tatafiore, 1965 – 2012 at Galerie Dittmar

This collection of drawings from Neapolitan artist Ernesto Tatafiore focuses on the French Revolution; its polarities, contradictions and ambiguities. The drawings are simple – they look like they have been done on papyrus – yet funny, thought-provoking and sophisticated at the same time.

The Drawings of Ernesto Tatafiore, 1965 – 2012 is on at Galerie Dittmar, Auguststraße 22,  10117 Berlin until 8th June 2013.

5. Juan Miguel Pozo Cruz at Liebkranz Galerie

Juan Miguel Pozo Cruz is a Cuban Berlin-based artist, whose paintings reflect this combination, representing scenes relevant to both Havana and Berlin.

His paintingLiebkranzs have a flat quality, yet are composed of peeling layers, scratches and deliberate gaps, reflecting his concern with history, nostalgia and the falseness of visual propaganda. Very interesting work.

Juan Miguel Pozo Cruz: Market is on at Liebkranz Galerie, Auguststrasse 62, 10117 Berlin until 1st June 2013.

art, Berlin

Exhibition Opening: Condition Humaine at the Laden Gallery

Eva, by Lilli Hill
Eva, by Lilli Hill

Yesterday saw the opening of Condition Humaine, an exhibition organised by the Ingeborg-Leuthold-Stiftung, a foundation promoting the art of women – especially realistic fine art in Berlin, at the Laden gallery in Tempelhof.

The exhibition brings together the work of three artists living in Berlin from different generations:  Lilli Hill (b.1976) Ingeborg Leuthold (b.1925) and Heike Ruschmeyer (b.1956).

Although they are distinct, their work displays a common theme; the body.

Heike Ruschmeyer, winner of the Marianne Werefkin prize 2005, paints corpses. Her huge canvases are most affecting, depicting blown-up images of the dead subject up close, taut in their rigor mortis, tinged yellow, purple and green. The images invoke eeriness and contemplation, reminding us that violence and death are part of the human condition.

In contrast, Lilli Hill’s paintings of fat women are solid, celebratory, lacquered and Rubenesque in their sensuality.

Ingeborg Leuthold’s naked bodies, bejewelled and tattooed, with mobile phones and sunglasses, are displayed in the context of modern leisure, evoking a bright, lively atmosphere.

Gehen, Bleiben, Durchdringen, by Johannes Grützke
Gehen, Bleiben, Durchdringen, by Johannes Grützke

In addition, the Laden Gallery is crammed with paintings and drawings by Berliner Johannes Grützke, whose works were celebrated in a retrospective at the Germanischen Nationalmuseum Nürnberg earlier this year and of which the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (09.29.200) said, “In a hundred years, people will hardly use our contemporary art to look for information about our life and bustle. Primary image sources are photography, film, television. The work of John Grützke is a rare exception because Grützke’s images are unique…They comment on bizarre social role- playing, attempts at emancipation and infantile regressions, single culture and obsessive group behavior, the battle of the sexes, women’s power, sexual liberation and sexual tensions, ideological contortions and collective neuroses…”

Condition Humaine by the Ingeborg-Leuthold-Stiftung is on at the Ladengalerie, Alt-Tempelhof 26, 12106 Berlin (U-Bahn 6 Alt-Tempelhof) until 26th July 2012. The gallery is open on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays between 12.00 and 18.00 or by appointment.

art, Life in Berlin

The Gemäldegalerie

Not many people visit this gallery in Potsdamer Platz due to its slightly out of the way location in relation to Museumsinsel. However, it holds one of the most important collections of European art dating from the 13th to the early 19th century.

Rembrant self portrait at the Gamaldegalerie in Berlin

Most notably, it is home to the second largest collection of Rembrants in the world after the Rembrant Museum in Amsterdam. The collection would have been bigger, had not a fire at the end of the second world war destroyed 11 Rembrants as well as hundreds of other works. 

The gallery currently exhibits about 1500 works, including those by Eyck, Bruegel, Dürer, Raphael, Tizian, Caravaggio, Rubens and Vermeer.  If you don’t have time to take all of them in, here are my top three highlights.

Caravaggio Amor Vincit Omnia
Amor Vincit Omnia

This painting caused a big fuss, not only because of the erotic representation of Cupid, but also because of the realistic touches Caravaggio gives him – such as dirty feet which are unbefitting of a god.

The painting has a photographic quality and striking chiaroscuro lighting. A recent article in The Guardian explains why Caravaggio may have been ” the first master of photographic technique, two centuries before the formal invention of the camera”, and it is interesting to view his paintings in the gallery with this in mind.

Netherlandish Proverbs by Pieter Bruegel
Netherlandish Proverbs
This painting is a lot of fun. A first glance it looks like the lunitics have taken over the asylum, but it’s a pictorial depiction incorporating 119 proverbs.

You can spend hours trying to make sense of it all – be warned, Dutch proverbs are very different from English proverbs. However, we have quite a few in common as well, such as “To bang one’s head against a brick wall”, “It depends on where the cards fall”, “The die has been cast”…

Raphael Terranuova Madonna
Terranuova Madonna
Raphael’s Madonna was ground-breaking as it imbues her with a human, earthly quality, which diminished some of the distance and respect previously attributed to her, but at the same time brought her closer to the people. For example, the background shows that she is on earth, not in heaven surrounded by angels as was traditional.

To her right is St John, from whom her child accepts a scroll on which is his fate as the sacrificial lamb of God is written. In a motherly response, Madonna’s left hand is half raised – which became a noted gesture.