In the first tour of the year we went art hunting in City West. Our starting point, Wentrup gallery showed works by Hicham Berrada (1986) under the titel Enclosed Natures. I’ve been seeing work bij Berrada popping up in exhibitions from Venice to Berlin.
Berrada uses natural processes as a painter would use paint. He tries to control them in the same way a painter would try to master his brush. In enclosed environments, like a small aquarium, the artist throws different kinds of chemicals in a fluid. They slowly sink down, in the mean time reacting on each other, creating an eerie, otherworldly, beautiful but toxic landscape. We see the proces on a screen in the gallery.
Activations, is the word Berrada uses for this type of work. He activates nature. We see a creation, a landscape coming into existence. The art work gets a timeline.
It builds a contrast with a romantic view of nature, depicted by painters like German hero Caspar David Friedrich. In his paintings, nature is admired, people are in awe. Berrada shows a more apocalyptic, destructive side of nature.
Next up, is a painted poodles frenzy at Max Hetzler Gallery, were the artist duo Tursic & Mille presents new work. They’ve been collaborating since 2000 and described this in an interview as a painful proces when, after weeks of hard labour, the other party places their first brush strokes on the canvas.
It is a best kept secret who paints what. Is one of them responsible for the painstaikenly realistic depiction of in this case advertisements from the fifties or the selection of French cheese and does the other one the more abstract compositions?
It probably doesn’t matter. We have to perceive it as a whole. And a grand total it is, because in each work we can see a history of painting coming together. From altarpieces to abstract expressionism, fro advertisement. From Jeroen Bosch to De Kooning, from 2D to 3D.
But not only that, we also see a mixture of the genres: Still lives (with cheese), landscape, and a contemporary way to deal with the nude (very pornografic).
The basis for their work is formed by an enormous archive, filled with images from the internet, and in doing so they connect history to contemporaneity.
During our Moabit Tour, last year, at Office Impart, we encountered new ways of dealing with the gallery system, based on collaborations. Around the corner from Max Hetzler, we found another collaboration, in this case between to galleries: Bar-Am and Thomas Fischer gallery.
Thomas Fischer on the one hand is space-less since summer 2019 and looking for cooperations. Micha Bar-Am on the other has altered the function of his space since April 2018. It’s no longer a commercial gallery, but he calls it a space for art. Since there is an overlap in their interests, a temporary partnership was born.
The exhibition Line in the Sand shows work from both galleries, focussing on architecture, photography, and real, imaginary or mental space. The small aquarel by Friedemann Heckel (1986) shows the only body in a space: a figure using a tree to climb over a fence.
Basis for the aquarel is an image found on Instagram. The contrast couldn’t be bigger. Translated into the very slow medium of the aquarel, where making one mistake is the end of your work, we see an image that was made in a second, with flash and probably in very bright colours.
It is also very probable that the aquarel found its way back to the medium it just escaped from. In recycling the image and posting it back online, the cycle is complete.
Our last stop is another cooperation at Haverkampf gallery. This young gallery in the Momsenstraße (open since 2017) did a gallery swap with gallery Alice Folker from Copenhagen. On view are four artists from her gallery, while at the same time Philipp Haverkampf is presenting his artists in Denmark. It’s a way to create a new podium for their roster.
On view are black and white portraits by Frederik Næbleorød (1988), showing images linked with religion and/or mythology but depicted with a cartoonesk sway. Next to them are some grotesque looking sculptures displayed, that look like something between a vase, an urn and a science-fiction mask.
The exhibition was a great way to dive into the art scene of another country and see what’s what.