art, Berlin, Life in Berlin

Studio Visit Berlin

Berlin has long been known as a city of artists, but it’s often difficult to find them; galleries are hidden away and have strange opening times, and many Berlin artists exhibit elsewhere.

Studio Visit Berlin is a door to the city’s vibrant art scene. They provide personal tours (no more than six people per group) that take you into the homes and studios of artists and designers. Tours vary according to the interests of the tour group, take between 2-4 hours, and cost €40 per person, which includes a Prosecco sack lunch and a valuable goodie bag of prints and books from participating artists.

Here’s a summary of the tour I took this weekend:

Meike Legler

home studio of designer Meike LeglerWe started in the home of artist and host Kottie Paloma and his wife designer Meike Legler, whose workspace is a nook in their apartment. She designs colourful pillows with geometric designs, and fun bed set sheets and shower curtains.

Diego Rodriguez-Warner

Diego Rodriguez-Warner's studio, BerlinDiego Rodriguez-Warner was born in Managua, Nicaragua. He studied under Cuban Minister for Fine Arts Lesbia Vent Dumois, in Havana, and completed his Bachelor of Arts in COIN Theory and Fine Arts from Hampshire College. He received his Masters of Fine Arts from the Printmaking Department of Rhode Island School of Design.

Diego’s solo show will open at Das Gift, Donaustrasse 119, 12043 Berlin at 8 pm, 2nd August 2014.

Sophia Domagla

DSC_2834German artist Sophia Domagla processes the naive, ugly and the beautiful moments of life, with a view to humor. After a two-month scholarship in September last year in Kiel, she is now back in Berlin until the end of 2014 on a Goldrausch program scholarship. She was recently nominated for the Berlin Art Prize 2014 and won the Prize for “Best Script.” She lives and works in the same space, and yes, that’s a doll house next to the bed…

Sophia currently has a solo show at Agora Collective, Mittelweg 50, 12053 Berlin.

Yorgos Stamkopoulos

DSC_2839Yorgos Stamkopoulos‘s abstract paintings are composed of multi-layered minimalistic colour fields. His process is super-interesting (in fact, the process itself seems to be one of his main concerns). He refers to his current series ‘blind paintings’ because his method of masking the canvas ensures that the final result is random and unexpected.

Jadranko Barisic

DSC_2864Bosnian artist Jadranko Barisic works in icons, replicating paintings from the 1200s to the 1500s. His works can be found in private collectors’ homes all over Europe as well as in churches that wanted to replace lost paintings and restore their collections. He mixes paints the old way, using substances like egg whites and gold leaf. Barisic is a master forger!

Johannes Rodenacker

DSC_2857A graduate of the University of the Arts, Berlin, Johannes Rodenacke deals with abstraction, figures, and comics. He is in charge of an artist’s project space called Poseidon Projekt and recently launched his book and Risograph print publishing house called Nebenb’ Art.

Franziska Jordan

DSC_2861In 1984, Franziska Jordan‘s family escaped from the Communist block of East Germany into West Germany in the middle of the night with Franziska smuggled in the trunk of the car. In 2000, she enrolled at UdK, Berlin where she was a student of H.J. Diehl and Daniel Richter.

Kottie Paloma

DSC_2870The last stop was host Kottie Paloma‘s studio. His paintings, drawings and sculptures reflect the darker sides of society in a humorous yet poignant and gritty manner. Many collectors consider his art the darker side of pop. His art is in private and public collections throughout the United States and Europe. Some of the public collections include MOMA in NYC, Harvard and Stanford University and the Bavarian State Library in Munich.


DSC_2859For me, it’s always a pleasure to visit artists’ studios. Often, it’s more interesting to see the space where art is made – the creative mess, the half-formed paintings and sculptures, the paint spattered surfaces – rather than looking at finished works in a sterile exhibition space. It was also fun to meet the artists themselves, talk to them about their work and processes, and have the opportunity to buy from them directly – who needs galleries?

For more information about the tours and how to book, go to Studio Visit Berlin or check out the SVB Facebook Page.

art, Berlin, Life in Berlin

R.B. Kitaj: Obsessions Exhibition at the Jewish Museum Berlin

The Unpacking my Library, 1990-1991 first large-scale retrospective of R.B Kitaj‘s work in fourteen years is currently on at the Jewish Museum Berlin.

R.B Kitaj (1932 – 2007), an American Jewish artist, spent almost 30 years in England. Like his friends David Hockney and Lucien Freud, he turned to figurative art in the 1960s.

His work is highly referential and collagic, drawing on a wide range of literary and artistic sources. He frequently uses newspaper cuttings and other texts in his work. Literature played a significant role in his life – he was a “self-professed bibliomaniac” and part of his huge collection of books are on display in the exhibition. The painting above is entitled ‘Unpacking My Library’, alluding to an essay by Walter Benjamin.

Kitaj’s circle of friends included philosophers, writers, poets and other artists. He drew from their work, and also represented them in his paintings. Below, ‘Two London Painters’, shows close friends Frank Auerbach and Sandra Fischer.

Two London Painters, Kitaj

Other friends and role models included Philip Roth, Joseph B. Soloveitchik and Ezra Pound.

Much of his work, such as The Murder of Rosa Luxemburg, La Pasionaria (a.k.a Isidora Dolores Ibárruri Gómez, a leader of the Spanish Civil War) and Dismantling the Red Tent, painted in the aftermath of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination, refers to historical and political events. Another obsession of Kitaj’s was his Jewishness, reflected in works such as ‘Drancy’, which was an internment camp from where Jews were deported to death camps.

The last retrospective of Kitaj’s work, held at the Tate in 1994, received bad reviews and proved a traumatic experience for the artist. He blamed critics for his wife’s death following the end of the show, and left England soon after, never to return. For him, the ‘Tate Wars’ confirmed his position as an outsider. Several works made after this episode reflect his feelings – the most obvious being ‘The Killer-Critic Assassinated by His Widower, Even’ painted in 1997.

In 2007, Kitaj committed suicide. A couple of years ago, The Guardian blog asked, Did Art Critics Kill Kitaj? Whatever the case, the current exhibition proves he was unfairly judged. For more about the artist, read his obituary in The Guardian.

Obsessions is on at the Jewish Museum Berlin, Lindenstraße 9-14, 10969 Berlin, until 27th January 2013.