Angela Looking at Art
In the segment Angela Looking at Art, visual artist Angela Kaisers takes you on a humorous journey through the world of contemporary art and how to make sense of it all.
How to Look at Art – Part 1
Looking at Some of the World’s Best Visual Art from Your Couch at Home
It’s hot. Way too hot to step outside, too hot to find yourself out and about in the streets of Berlin. On a lake. Great. At the beach. Hell yeah. Berlin’s streets. I think not.
Instead of running down my four flights of stairs (You know getting back up is a different story!), onward to one of Berlin’s galleries and right into their exhibition space, I stay in the enclosures of my shaded apartment walls. Staring at my computer. Aka the fifth wall. But one that comes with a fantastic door. Aka the internet. And that’s the key, the solution to all troubled souls not making it to a gallery or museum today. Thanks to the likes of MoMA and its vast online art collection (yes, yes, with lots of shiny pictures) you can explore art while lounging on your mustard yellow Ikea couch. What a treat. Yes, I mean that. But people who know me fear a sarcastic undertone – relax my friends, no sarcasm here right now. Juuuust a didactic* side note.
*People who experience nausea, cold sweats or aggressive outbreaks upon hearing this term might just wanna skip a paragraph or two and still have a jolly good time with me and my blog today.
Why It Is Important to Look at Contemporary Art in Your Community
I love, love looking at art online. It’s amazing to be able to view all my fave artworks from around the world without having to move my lazy a$$. But. Remember. Buy art from living artists, the dead ones don’t need the money anymore. And believe me, I know what I’m talking about since I belong to the first category (yes, still alive and kicking). And even though not all artists’ works being represented at MoMA’s online archive are dead (please don’t make this complicated now), you get the message. Right?
So please, do go and look at art live, as in you yourself in a brick-and-mortar exhibition space contemplating art. And if you are a darling and do as I say, this will benefit not only the contemporary art scene but will actually benefit you as well. Yeah, I knew you’d love the sound of that.
How Viewing Art at a Gallery or Museum Makes a Difference to Your Art Experience
Ok, let’s do this simple. I paint, I give you that, but only in acrylics. (yes, you’re absolutely right – now would indeed be a good time to check out my portfolio). So, a few words later and I’m still not painting I oil, but yet I love the smell of said oil paint. When I look at an oil painting I want to have my oil paint scent fetish satisfied as well. So far, not happening when gaping at my computer screen. Get it?
Senses. Just not the sense of touch. No touching the art. Seriously.
One more, but then you go figure out yourself.
I do not particularly like spiders. I’d say though, I can handle them when they are Central European small. Or when I look merely at pictures of tarantula big spiders. Not liking it, but no screaming fits either. Now, being in a room (no, not wide open field with plenty of directions to run away from) with one of those would be quite a different story. It seems being confronted with that thing (spider) (keep on reading, you’ll get why I added “spider” here) size does matter (yeah, yeah – or rather: hear, hear), doesn’t it?
No? Right, you go to SFMOMA’s current Louise Burgeois’ exhibition. And then you tell us about your nightmares afterwards.
End of Didactic Side Note
But for now, while it’s so freakin’ hot, to hell with it. Gimme that online collection.
What’s up Next?
It will be pretty hot for a while in Berlin and I’m somehow guessing my ventures to the great outdoors of Kreuzberg will lead me to an ice cream parlor rather than an exhibition. But let’s not fret and instead delve together into MoMA’s online archive when we meet again.
How to Look at Art – Part 2
Looking and Understanding Visual Art is Easy – if You Know How
Remember the other day? When Berlin was melting away? The day I was a non-oil-painting, spider-sceptic artist that felt the urge to look at someone’s else’s art for once (yes, that does happen, as much as I love my own works) and yet not willing to step outside her heat-blocking walls?
Yes? Good. Because nothing has changed.
Browsing through MoMA’s Online Art Collection
Yay! So much art! Idon’tknowwheretostaaaaart!
Why don’t we start with something familiar? And by this I do not necessarily mean artists that most of us already know but artworks that play with familiar images. No, no worries I’m not going to start talking about my own art in sheep’s clothing… Who do you think I am? I’m German, I will throw my artworks and thoughts straight into your face if I feel like it. (Yes, you can read that as a threat – or insult, since I haven’t thrown anything yet).
Not Only Landscape Art Relates to Your Last Weekend Trip
As I was saying, familiar imagery that just got twisted a bit and by doing so turned into really cool works of art (highly subjective influencing methods at play). No, I’m not referring to those lovely mountain and seaside aquarelles you saw on your last vacation. Gosh, you’re a tough little nut, aren’t you? I mean … oh forget it, just hit that link and take in some Roy Lichtenstein art.
I’m not going to give you an introduction to Lichtenstein’s work – MoMA does that wonderfully right here. Also let’s just look at pictures first. And yes, it’s a bit a paradox me telling you to just look at the darn pictures while I keep blabbing on.
But seriously, the artworks first. Don’t read what it’s all about just now.
Why You Should Look at the Artworks before Reading the Artists’ Statements
Simple, you want your own life become part of the work. Yes, you do. You can’t escape it anyway. Your background, life experience, opinions and prejudices, let them all out and melt with the artwork. Now look at it. What do you see? How does it make you feel? Probably very different from my own sensations contemplating the same works. And most likely quite different from what the artist or critic has to say about it. And that’s not only ok, that’s great!
That’s why this blog is called Angela, Looking at Art. And not “Let’s hold hands and have the same emotional reaction to everything we experience in life”.
Agreed, so far I haven’t talked much (obviously not at all) about my looking at art. But we’re still in kindergarten, making sure we’re all on the same level before we hit the real… I mean, start school.
Back to Roy Lichtenstein
But why on earth did I make you view Lichtenstein’s works of all 77,000 artworks offered by MoMA’s online collection?
Because he made art that’s based on comic strips that are based on soap opera like life experiences.
Today’s lesson is about relating your life to what is shown to you in artworks. If you cannot relate to art per se (total generalization at play) you might be able to relate to comic strips or soap operas. And if you can do that, you’re almost set to relate your life experiences to Roy Lichtenstein’s works.
Once you understand how that works – and as importantly – let it happen, you’re good to go to look at art on your own without fearing you don’t get art. You will see something in it. Whether you like it or not – well, honey, that’s quite a different question.
No, don’t say it. Keep that one for yourself – for now. I said we’re still in kindergarten. And today was about you associating your own life experiences with what you see in an artwork. Not about “But what makes it art”. That’s for another (far far away) blog post.
What’s up Next?
So, as you figured – and probably hate me for that already – I’m not telling you what to see in an artwork. But hey, next time I will tell you what happens to me when I look at Jutta Koether’s work! Don’t know her? Even better!
Jutta Koether and Her Screaming Paintings
Magical and Terrifying Adventures in JK Land
No, JK does not imply JK Rowling – and so you can feel relieved or sad that we’re not in Harry Potter Land today. But seriously, I must admit I’m a tad disappointed! Have you already forgotten all about my farewell words from our last encounter?? Sigh.
Finally. It’s Angela, Looking at Art
Actually it should be titled, Angela, looking at art several years ago. But let’s not be picky now, shall we?! Hint: you’ll get the (I’m sure highly awaited) moral at the end of me talking about art I saw in 2011. Which implies you have to read to the very very end – or at least annoyingly scroll all the way down. Ha, I’m so mean!
But now, let’s jump right into my personal – yes, highly (believe me) – subjective notes on Jutta Koether’s exhibition Berliner Schlüssel.
Jutta Koether at Galerie Daniel Buchholz Berlin
Dead end. Wall. Right in front of me. Sliding door, closed shut. Right next to me. Where to now? Wall. Déjà vu. How on earth does that Berlin Wall manage to resurrect itself so fast again? As then, at least on my side, it’s nicely decorated. With pictures. While bending down to look at them I start calling my chiropractor – ’cause if you’re taller than a school child you’ll def need an appointment ASAP.
Spoiler alert: I never get to make that call.
Drama ensues in front of me. Leaves no speech nor mindset for calling anyone. No cry for help escapes my lips. Only an inner voice chanting “Hello darkness, my old friend.” And Jutta. Sucking me and my soul right into never-ending tunnels. Tunnels with no light, no hope. But there’s little time to recover from this hopeless situation and the feeling you have when artworks wear black better than you do. No more sounds of silence when Jutta starts throwing mountains of flesh into my face. Neon pink is crawling up the walls. Up my spine, down my face, back into my eyes, eating up my retina. And no place to go. Door? No way, she took care of that. Out the window, jumping down the balcony and running off. Yeah, she saw that one coming too. I get upset. Tantrum fits, dizzy spells. Labyrinth. Damn, this is Harry Potter Land after all. I get annoyed by this thought. By the colors and the dead ends I keep running into. No magic tricks to get me out of here, no pause button to take a break. Jutta’s works are in a screaming contest with my eyes. A contest I am loosing. And that makes me mad. The pain of pink. My fear of small spaces. And jealous. Of Jutta having the gift to create artworks that have the power to do that to me.
Bottom Line: Emotions
Remember the beginning of the post? No, not when you hoped I was talking Harry Potter instead of visual art. Those lines that came right afterwards. Yes, exactly, when I said something about that me pulling up my ancient notes from an art exhibition years and years ago has a good reason. Still does. See, this show, Jutta Koether’s works, for me – so hey, maybe not for you – are all about emotions. And when I think back of the exhibition now I still feel that pink crawling up my spine. I don’t remember what exactly was pictured on the canvasses but, oh boy, that desperate feeling and me freaking out, that’s still all there. To this very day. Will still be there tomorrow.
Love, Hate, Disgust and Joy
Let them all out. Whatever you feel when you look at art, let it happen & let it out. Don’t be shy. It’s ok to feel something when looking at art. Actually, and honey, I hope this is not big news to you, that’s what it’s all about. As long as you feel something, whatever that is, the artist did it right!
Side note: if you never ever feel anything looking at any art, please contact your local therapist.
What’s up Next?
Well, prepare yourself. Even though you already read so much (aka scrolled all the way down) this is not the end of it. He he. I kept the best part for next time’s post. See, I am mean. No, no hint today. You actually have to come back next time. (This is like all the big blog shots are doing it these days, right? Tease, not please.)
Art and Emotions – Curating Jutta Koether’s Vivid Works
Daniel Buchholz’s Fantastic Jutta Koether Horror Show
Last time we met and talked Jutta Koether’s art, I wrote a lot. Like a lot lot. And consequently poor you had to read a lot. Or fall asleep mid-way through, pretending you made it to the end. Now, I’m not always a sadist, so let’s make it easier on both of us this time. I will hold my tongue and let you go out and about after just a few paragraphs. Yay. (She’s gotten lazy, hasn’t she?)
Also last time, I made you be super anxious about today’s post because I used the ever so thrifty tactic that TV series – and nowadays blogs as well – have become famous for: cliffhangers. Not really sure if I succeeded in seducing you believing you should be back this time to get your happy ending. But, just saying, if you’re reading this… well.
Art and Emotions
Anyway, so as I was telling you, art and emotions, that’s a marriage that’ll last and – for me – was made in heaven. But when I say art, I do not simply mean artworks.
So, here it is. The big final thought on Jutta Koether’s exhibition Berliner Schlüssel.
It’s Not Just the Art Itself. It’s How and Where It’s Shown as Well.
Obviously, Jutta Koether’s works are making me squeal and feel very, really quite uncomfortable. Seriously. But as with the spiders that’s no biggie if you have the option to get away from it all. And this is where curation comes in. You know, that thing where someone decides which works to put here or there and letting one work be close with a specific other one. Like your older sister trying to set you up with that cutie from the coffee shop – but, oh boy, would she freak if she’d knew about you and that hottie from the gym. And when all this setting up is done well, we all get an extra layer of sensual experience. You, because your sister was right. Me, because I got to watch.
Curators Need Your Love Too
And here’s a thought now. Next time you go to view an exhibition (please, make it this year) keep what I just said in mind. Look not just at the works themselves but spend a second or two on how they are arranged.
Yes, let’s all praise the artists, naturally they’re the best (I’m definitely the best, in case you were ever doubting that) but to get that extra kick out of the work, there are others helping the artists’ baby’s birth along. You do know that if you’re a huge fan of a movie you shouldn’t just be praising the actors, right? Like directors, script writers… Well, art is no different. Yes, I said it.
What’s up Next?
For our upcoming date I thought we head over to one of those many war zones. But since I’m more a fan of fighting with words and works this battle field will be a fluffy site. Promised. He he.
Fiber Art at Its Best – Patricia Waller
Art Is More Than a Painting Decorating Your Living Room
As I promised in my closing words last time, today we’ll be surrounded by fluffy art. (P.S. I never said it won’t get tough). But for now, think all things fluffy aka creatures of fibers.
So I’m telling you guys, fiber fine art is out there! It’s big and you should all start collecting. Right now. No, that has nothing to do with me doing embroidery artworks. Not at all. I just know what’s a great artistic technique when I start using one. Ha!
One of those fiber artists I’m referring to is crochet-hero Patricia Waller. And since it was a wonderful Spring day and my life seemingly exists only around art and not lakes, I got my kicks and hence you get your write up on Patricia Waller and her exhibition Innocent.
Patricia Waller at Galerie Deschler Berlin
61 Auguststrasse, Berlin. A quiet sunny post Gallery Weekend afternoon. Matt Damon stands motionless on the street gazing through the window in front of him. He begins crying.
Out of nowhere and out of the blue blue sky, hundreds upon hundreds of soldiers storm into the gallery. Surprise! Out from behind the registrar’s desk and from the dark dark basement, hundreds upon hundreds of soldiers hastily emerge and start shooting at the newcomers. All of them die. All. Except for Tom Hanks and his BFFs. A firework of grenades, bombs and such. Everybody is excited, lots of limbs flying across the exhibition space. Steven Spielberg is happy, so is the audience. Veterans indulge in fond memories.
Tom is making his way through art, limbs and blood. Dead soldiers and half-dead ones. Jonny, Cinderella, Toby, George. No Ryan. Steven fires up some more blood and limbs. Still, no Ryan. Rinse and repeat. No Ryan. But more blood and limbs. Like everywhere.
Finally, everyone agrees that Steven and Tom have made their point, are bored or have better things to do. So, Matt get’s in, has his say, fight for my country blah, more shooting, blood and limbs. Someone has the great idea to only have Matt Ryan survive. That makes Matt cry again. And Steven rich. And no one more critical of war.
Who’s Afraid of Patricia Waller?
This is why we have and need artists like Patricia Waller. And this is why a lot of people don’t like aka are afraid of contemporary art. Because it makes them think, worse it makes them reflect. Yeah, on war. But worse, on their own life, privileges and hypocrisies.
But why be mad? It’s never too late to learn and change!
Face to Face
And this is exactly where you come in and will be the good one in this scenario. I know you can do it! Don’t shy away but be brave and face what’s here to greet you.
Now darling, just keep in mind what I told you about relating your weekend trips to the art you come across. As you see, you can relate movies – and, hey yes (and this is the important part) world wide, let’s call them as the politicians do, “incidents” – to what’s on show at your local gallery.
Ok, maybe not every gallery. Maybe not the ones that show only cows in green on grass in blue (apparently sells well though).
What’s up Next?
In the future, we’ll venture into the past. Millions of years ago, a few years back. And I’m not even going to mention Back To The Future once. Promise. Sorry. Whatever exclamation you prefer.
Welcome to Jurassic World – Claudia Comte at the Kingdom of St Agnes
How Art and Hollywood Just Don’t Want to Get a Divorce
Our last encounter took us to the battle fields of Tom, Matt and Steven. And despite knowing I had enough of Hollywood and its yawn-effecting blockbusters it dawns on my, I can’t escape it. Another exhibition and another film world casts its shadows over me.
But I had it coming, all that research into movies for my own artworks, no wonder I can hardly think, feel, see anything else these days. I basically brainwashed myself for the sake of my own art. Life is tough. Just give me a minute here to whine a bit and pity myself.
Claudia Comte at König Galerie Berlin
Aaaand we’re back.
And for that matter, not just back but right back at it. At König Galerie Berlin and Claudia Comte’s exhibition When Dinosaurs Ruled The World.
Dinosaurs. World. Thank you, Claudia. How on earth should I possibly be able to escape Hollywood today? Seriously, who doesn’t think of Jurassic Park World Universe right away. Right? No, you thought of that too. Just because you won’t admit it because you’re too cool for school doesn’t mean you could escape the T-Rex franchise.
Blast from the Past
Take a deep breath. Forget about the title of the show, don’t even peek at the statement. No more words, just the work. With this mantra up I go, up the stairs to Claudia’s installation.
The moment I enter the exhibition space, just for a split second, I manage to forget about Jeff Goldblum’s maniac hand gestures and that feeling you get when a T-Rex breaths into your neck (we’ve all been there, haven’t we?!). For a split second and only because I seem to be one of Rick Moranis’ kids back in 1989. And to be honest, I’m not sure I like that feeling any better.
What surrounds me now instead of Universal Studios Hollywood is Angela’s Studio Berlin. And. It’s. Weird. Not just that I have the impression of being in a blown up version of my own installation of three years ago but rather that it feels like the blown up version of an ex lover right in front of me. Don’t we all dread this situation? Running into our ex on the street, realizing it’s too late and no chance to dodge them now?! Well, now time that by I don’t know, well, just blow it up, like Rick Moranis anno 1992. If the situation before was awkward, imagine what that feels like now!
The Letting Go
See, thing is, some artists – and I’m so so one of them – make very different artworks in very different phases of their lives (remember Picasso blue, rose, cubic). And as it is with the lovers in your life, with some you’re still great friends and others you just want to get out of your life. You love your work. You hate it. You feel strongly about it. You never ever want to see it again. And you learn to let go and move on.
All I can see are trees that remind me of something else. No matter how much I try to focus on what Claudia has to say, it just won’t happen. And sometimes, you just have to let that happen and accept that your own associations are so strong, you can’t see what the artist has to offer you. You’re caught up in your own drama. And as we all know that has nothing to do whether we like the person that just asked us out, it’s all about us still trying to let go of things that belong in the past.
What’s up Next?
Oh wow, that went deep. So please, no more installations with trees until I’ve recovered. And that’s why next time we talk it’s about happy times and artworks hanging flat on the wall.
An Artwork Doesn’t Need to Be a One-Night Stand
Jimmy & Patty feeling LUCKY at nGbK Berlin
Since my last weeks and coming weeks have been and will be all about the wonderful (yes, truly so) exhibition LUCKY at nGbK Berlin curated by the equally wonderful Coven Berlin, today I will talk about my work Jimmy Carter & Patty Hearst which is part of this exhibition.
Exhibition Openings: Network vs Artwork
The opening was a blast! A party with old and new friends. And of course, there was fantastic art as well. But with all this enjoying the opening night and chatting with one person, jumping straight to the next one (basically like chain smoking, lighting a new cigarette while still sucking on the other one) I always feel like talking a lot (I had a sore throat at the end of the night, seriously) without saying much.
See, or maybe for the innocent ones I should say, prepare yourself, openings are way more about being there and being seen. About who you are and who you know. What you do and who you do it with.
Mostly, there’s only time for a quick “So, what am I looking at?” that the opening attendee throws at the artists with strict unspoken rules of making the answer better not longer than one sentence. BTW – counts for both sides. Visitors are not the (only) bad guys in this scenario and artists are not (always) saints.
So today is for all of those who would love to stock up on our quick exchange of words during the opening of LUCKY at nGbK, and anyone else who’s in for reading artists’ statements (anyone??)!
Take a deep, deep breath. And here we go.
Jimmy Carter & Patty Hearst from the Series Echoes
In the series Echoes I look at structures of power in past and current events. I observe and question how we subjectively distribute and perceive such information. How collective memory is created and develops over time and how easily it can be manipulated.
The first of nine observations reflects on the incidents, the cause and effects, of the kidnapping of Patty Hearst by terrorist group SLA in the 1970s. My interest here lies not so much in what prompted Hearst to ally with her kidnappers but rather in how her abduction and conviction has been portrayed and perceived.
Patty Hearst comes from a privileged environment, a white rich young girl from one of America’s most influential families. This background has directed the way her abduction and participation in criminal acts has been treated by officials, depicted by the media and interpreted and judged by a diverse spectatorship. The collective memory on the Patty Hearst case has been glamorized and whitewashed by the powerful constellation of privileged background, media bias and fairy tale gossiping. To point out this structure and question the collective memory that has settled so comfortably (or uncomfortably) in our minds it is necessary to reconfigure them both.
In Jimmy Carter & Patty Hearst I deconstruct and reprogram the relationship of Patty Hearst and US President Jimmy Carter, who commuted Hearst’s prison sentence in 1979. The original photograph that is serving as base for my artwork shows Hearst and Carter years later at a philanthropic event. By applying slight changes to the positioning of the observed subjects on the found photograph, I modify their interpersonal distance and hereby manipulates the message the photo was supposed to transmit.
Falling in Love with an Artwork Is Easy…
Yay! You made all way through! I’m so proud of you – and happy for you, too.
I know, I know. artists’ statements can be a drag. You came here all the way to look at stuff and not having to read your way through anything. I feel you. I always look at artworks first, as I mentioned the other day. And I also believe what makes an artwork great, is when it makes you all excited without you knowing anything about it.
… Building a Relationship Takes Work
But (yes, there’s a but, honey) after you’ve taken in all that is to see and feel, take a minute to read – or listen to – what lies beyond the surface. Most of the times it’s actually worthwhile.
What’s up Next?
Since I started this blog to ramble on about artworks I look at but not so much ones created by myself let’s keep up with that – and I hope you’ll join me for a stroll filled with sun and art next time we meet again.
The New iCanvas or Monika Baer’s Security vs Your Insecurity
On Falling in Love with Art
As I was telling you in my last post, today is all about other people’s art and sunshine.
I fell in love very late in life. But when I did, it hit me hard. And I never wanted to be loveless again. But only the real thing. No tinder flirts or shallow sexting. All or nothing at all.
I’m talking of course of falling in love with monochrome paintings.
But before I continue with this endearing fairy tale, a note from Apple.
Monika Baer at Galerie Barbara Weiss Berlin
After all that surprise sun, it was just a matter of time – and without the least bit of surprise for anyone who has spent some time in Berlin – to be covered in a net of grayness once again. And, yes, you’re absolutely right, it’s really hard to please me. So, of course, it’s also no surprise that having no sun nor high temperatures, left me not in high spirits as my thoughts the other day would have made you believe but rather in a depressed and melancholy mood.
With all that emotional baggage strapped to my mind, I found myself stumbling aimlessly through my Kreuzberg neighborhood. Apparently, shopping makes everybody else happy and I dragged my sad (so sad) little self to the Apple Store by the Kanal.
Amazed – and yet not in the least unpleased. Astounded – and yet quite relieved – no other customers nor employees around me. Storming at me while I took in the latest gadgets on display.
Yes, that should have made me wonder. And yes, question the whole set up. But I guess, their sleazy tactics already started working on me. Instead of becoming wary, I fully indulged in Apple’s selling strategy.
In my fragile state, it was an easy task to seduce me with their sentimental triggers, luring me to recall fond memories from the past. Childhood in the 1980s. Pastel colored clothes and everything.
But Apple didn’t just stop there. They knew why I came here, to this center of commercialism. The grayness of my mind, the heavy burden of my sunless heart. What better moment to sell me their new iCanvas not with painfully pouting selfies on display but with an endless ocean of soft yellowness.
All mingles. Swirls in front of my eyes and inside of my head. A state of colorful bliss. Nostalgic feelings from my childhood in powerful unity with one of the best antidepressants readily touching my mind. Sighs here and there, smiles everywhere. I start a little happy dance, whirling to the other side… *
*If you want to join me on the other side, head over to Galerie Barbara Weiss !
iCanvas – Recreating the Colors of Your Childhood
If iCanvas was an app offering you soothing and uplifting pastel yellow hues from your 1980s childhood to stare at, you would not only buy it but spend hours of your daily life doing so. Yes, love, you would. You already spend more time staring at the fire place on your screen than the one in your living room.
The Real Thing
Why not do the same with the real thing? No, not the fireplace. I honestly don’t care if you prefer to look at fake fire or actual hot burning smoking flames. What I do, really do, care about though is to make you look at monochrome paintings in real life.
Because you will never fall for them online or by looking at a catalogue.
And what I want for you, is to fall in love and leave your insecurity behind.
What’s up Next?
Well, I have the feeling you’re not convinced, still skeptic of the love I have to offer you. Another tete-a-tete with monochromatic (I never said monogamic!) art seems in demand. And hence, I’ll send you on some more romantic dates.
Everybody Gets a Second Chance To Fall in Love with Colors
How to Overcome Your Fear of Monochrome Paintings
What? You’re still not in love? You heartless soul.
Ok, ok, I get it. You don’t live in Berlin, had no private-jet-chance to see Monika’s monochromes in person. Well, here’s what I’m gonna do for you (because I’m so kind and because I’m so patient), I’m offering you a second, less restricted chance to fall in love with color and art.
So, less restricted for the ones with commitment issues. Ok, I’ll give you stripes to ease into a relationship with monochromes. Meaning, you still have some kind of a pattern. A pattern to look at but more so a pattern to follow when looking at art. This is not your (own) fault but what has been ingrained into your brain for all those school years that saw you have art classes (or should I anxiously ask, any at all??). The pattern is to describe what you see in a picture (well, most of the times that just includes paintings), hence “we” (read: not me, I shiver just by thinking about it) are all so fluffy comfortable with “contemplating” (I use this term loosely) decorative art, because it is what it is. It’s an illustration of real life. Kittens, boobs, seaside. You get the picture.
Whereas the pattern my tough loving self wants to teach you is to not describe what you see but how it makes you feel. And as we all have a favorite color, this should actually be such a simple one when it comes to monochromatic paintings. Right?
Then why are you giving yourself such a hard time staring at monochrome works and be confused, yes, even annoyed?
(Yes, yes, there’s more to monochrome painting than just the color, hold your horses experts. We’re trying to make friends here not more fiends!)
Let’s Talk Colors
Hey you, your favorite color from when you were a kid? How does it make you feel like seeing it today?
And you, I know you love pink. 12 canvasses in all shades of pink surrounding you in a white cube. Feelings? Any at all??
Also, remember Baker-Miller Pink? We should do that experiment (the long-term one of course) with all the color-doubters out there once again. And then let’s talk color & effect. Ha!
Agnes Martin is Waiting for You
But as I said before, you can only really fall in love with monochromatic art when you see it in person. To get the full color effect and also to be exposed to the brush strokes and their traces (or the non-existence of those!), plastered color fields, smooth parts. Experience the artists working their canvas.
And if your person doesn’t linger in Berlin these days, maybe it does in New York or the UK? I would really recommend yourself being in either places like right now. Because, you see, Agnes Martin works, the ones with the big stripes (don’t be picky now, each stripe in itself is monochromatic, also it was about making it easier on you, remember?!) can be viewed right now at MoMa in New York and at The Gallery of the Winchester Discovery Centre in the UK.
Go, fall in love with colors!
What’s up Next?
Hey, guess what – we’ll be going on another excursion! Pack your bags and let’s go!
Trümmerfrauen – One Work of Art to Rule Them All
Angela Looking at Her Own Art
As promised, today I will take you on another excursion! Yay! Well, now don’t be disappointed in a sec and head over to the next best travel blog you come across when I say it’s not a geographical one but one that goes straight into yours truly’s heart aka work of art.
After my little write up on the exhibition opening of LUCKY and my featured artwork “Jimmy Carter & Patty Hearst” I got lots of great feedback (just not in the comment sections – sigh, you people can be so so shy) and actual requests (true story!) to elaborate on some of my other artworks as well.
The Beginning of a Whole New World
Earlier this year I got invited to create a work in relation to the hills in Berlin. No restrictions whatsoever. Which is what I love and always gets me real excited (absolute no sarcasm here, darling!). And as you might by now already know and be aware of or if not will sooner or later (let’s hope sooner) find out about me, is that I love to not go for the obvious but the hidden gem. The one that makes you think and think again. And sometimes think some more.
Hence, when I got asked to submit an artwork dealing with all kind of things hills in Berlin I did not submit an oil painting of romantic hilltop sunsets (remember I don’t do oil nor am I into decorative art) but an abstract collage dealing with the myth of mountains made out of rubble so conveniently at hand thanks to WW2.
On Falling in Love and Procreation
But before you get all the goss and details on this one particular piece, a little extra knowledge for your sneaking seeking mind. Let me first offer you a glimpse in how I come up with ideas for my artistic series. See, here’s the deal: I generally don’t go about and come up with a concept for a whole series but it all starts quite specific, focused, if you like, obsessive, some might say. This means I have one concrete idea for one work of art. No, not a series. One piece. But while I work away on it, while I do all the research necessary to tell the story I want you to hear about, I always fall in love with the story line myself. So much, that I can’t say good bye and break up after just one work of art. And hence, I come up with a new script and cast, a sequel and a prequel, whatever fits the bill. One work in all my series is and will always be the parent of all the other works – and basically of the series in itself.
Trümmerfrauen and Their Influence on Role Models
And since I sometimes do listen to your cry for secrets and views behind the scenes, let’s start today’s thoughts on my own art with the one piece that got a series started and not the typical reverse.
How you hopefully can still recall before I let you in on a lil’ secret of mine I was talking hills and rubble and WW2. Trümmerfrauen (or rubble women) is what should or at least could burst straight into your mind.
For most of times and most of people, Trümmerfrauen were such heroic beings that it almost seems crazy that neither Marvel nor DC haven’t produced an empire of movies based on their fantastic deeds.
But finally, this long celebrated heroic role of German (especially Western German) Trümmerfrauen after World War II is being criticized and questioned by many unsentimental observers. And more and more, unfortunately still not most, understand that those heroins, the rubble women, have functioned as decoys. To distract you and me, from Germany’s negative Nazi past, to focus on what has been good and positive, yes, even innocent. Whitewashing your minds and history books.
And now? What does the artist do? Does as I told just before. Thinks long and deep and contemplates what is actually the key conclusion in her new work. No, no more WW2 or mountainsides, but thoughts on status, influence and mentorship, on role models that is.
And to put it in serious tones – the language of a so called artist statement – this is what it’s all about:
In Role Models I reflect on the significance and status of figures from past time popular culture, politics, and historic events. Each artwork is based on a specifically selected group and consists of ten portraits, layered on top of each other. The common link between each group of people is their past or alleged status as role models. Due to the selection and positioning of these figures into the context of today, with new gained knowledge, personal development, and critical reflections, I tackle their status as role models and invite to discuss anew their influence on society, history and personal memory.
Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now
As you, my dear, can see by now, in my works one idea leads to the next and next – and therefore a series is rarely ever finished or complete. There are always more examples to question and discuss, more patterns to reveal and reprogram.
What’s up Next?
While I keep working on my series’ offspring you can relax and chill before I take you on another journey, not far from where we started.
LUCKY at nGbK – An Alternative Exhibition Guide
Batman, The Princess Bride, and House of Cards with a Touch of Sense & Sensibility
And as I said the other day our journey today starts not far from where we met last time. But lucky you, today will take you away from all those heated city streets and into worlds of (ice cold) dreams and fantasies, right here at nGbK Berlin.
It’s sunny, it’s hot today in Berlin. My mood for ice-cream and refreshing adventures, like being at the sea or on a boat on a lake, are stronger than ever. But being dead broke and jetting off to beautiful fishing villages and palm tree-lined beaches, let alone boating trips in Brandenburg, are no option for the image of the starving artist in this day and age.
And hence, in order to find some acceptable shade and pleasantry, some needed escape from heat and realism, a movie theater will have to do. I venture off to the closest cinema at hand, featuring tasty ice-cream for my body, heart, and soul.
The Curtain Rises
The lights go off, the show begins. Not with ads telling you how great Berlin is after all and after all those years but with an intro that sets things right and you in your place. Grandfather clears his throat and in a slow and deeply soothing voice relates to you the story of Batman and Robin, the princess bride.
The Adventures of Batman & Robin, The Princess Bride
In front of you and right and left, the remains of Gotham City stand erect. The Joker’s last attack leaves your heart broken and cityscapes in ruins, resulting in fragmental objects and objectifications of the human kind (2). The Batmobile looks like your childhood tricycle when you took it for a spin years past your toddler times. Nowhere near remotely safe for taking your lover for a ride, let alone venturing off to save all those precious lives (1). But luckily, you made Hollywood and all its members rich – and as we know, all can be fixed with the right amount of numbers on your cheque. That doesn’t just count for the car but also Batman’s self-esteem (4) and while the camera follows his every step, from Batmobile to cape and back (3), we are allowed an unasked glimpse of just how low this man’s hood has sunken (4). All the while, like Rapunzel in her tower, Robin, the princess bride, has been waiting patiently… for the bat to come and move on. But Robin is not stupid and has always played her cards so well. No tech and science talk can divert her from her most important goal (6): to get the bat as husband by her side, since Kevin is no longer a trustworthy candidate (7). Looking barbie and making her way acceptable through your escapist fantasy has done the trick so far (5). Cause who needs all that knowledge when you can be a trophy wife (7)? For Brandon’s rich and Marianne’s handsome and had you wonder all that time ago. To get things going faster, Batman secures some extra hands, has them do their magic tricks and set the power couple free to go (2). Dressed to impress like it’s Met season (8), Robin and Batman take you to the highest circles of US society. A smile, a grin, a fairy tale later, and Patty is good to go home (9). One life saved and they move on. Escaping L.A.’s smog and dirt, the gentrified hellhole once called home (10), the Batmobile takes off once more while we hear the Joker laughing hoarsely at their cowardly escape (11). From L.A. to D.C., sickness is a sign of weakness, and health of wealth (13), but since the dawn of Robin’s predecessors’ machinery, covering up ailing tracks has been a thing and top concern (12). Serving others and keeping up her duties makes Robin lose on her own secret battleground, as does seeing Batman changing sides, venturing off to darker spheres and Joker’s land (15).
And in a final scene, Robin makes her move out of her whitewashed house, joining Batman for a last duet (15), while don’t ask don’t tell is still in your ears and Kevin’s mouth (14).
The curtain closes, the lights go on. My eyes adjust to brightness and you, hopefully, to what you’ve just been told.
What’s up Next?
Well, since I like Kreuzberg so much and it actually does have some more art shows to offer, let’s linger here for just another write up from yours truly.
Chthonic Rift or Letting Your Thoughts Wander off the Beaten Path
Chthonic Rift at Kraupa-Tuskany Zeidler
As I was saying last time, I spend quite some time looking at art in Kreuzberg and so it happened that the other hot, hot evening I went to the opening of the group exhibition Chthonic Rift at Kraupa-Tuskany Zeidler. And you know what? – Upon viewing, like right there in the space I knew I wanted to tell you all about it and make you go check it out for yourself. And in my by now hopefully well known fashion to refer the art and exhibitions I come across to popular culture, preferable Hollywood mainstream movies, I immediately felt compelled to write about Hiddleston & Hiddlestoners, being King & seing Kong. And by the rank of Loki’s stardom & fandom I know this would have garnered me a viral post at once.
But here’s the thing. I just can’t. Cause next to Tom, Dick & Harry there are other things that instantly pop into my mind when viewing Chthonic Rift. Things and thoughts I just can’t ignore. Tom would have been more fun for you – and, yes probably me, but life is not a Ponyhof as we love to utter in Berlin. And hence today I will not let Marvel win but DC rule.
Behind the Scenes of the Artist as a Researcher
Let me take you back to the time I was busy playing with Aquaman. And decided to put him in the Mediterranean Sea. No, no worries it’s not a sneaky way of mine trying to sell you once again one of my very own works or at least / even worse make you read about it. Nope. Won’t happen today. What will happen today though is giving you a glimpse of my mind – i.e. showing you what else develops in my head, parallel to the artworks I create. An artwork’s research side effect, if you like. Which means, not only no Tom Hiddleston for you but also no talk on art. But I beg you, stay with me. This is important too.
So, today’s tragic fairy tale – brought back to my mind thanks to Chthonic Rift at Kraupa-Tuskany Zeidler – are a byproduct of my research for my artwork Plastic Polluted Mediterranean Sea feat. Aquaman.
And this is how the story goes:
The Sad and True Story of the Lanternfish, Your Plastic Shopping Bags and Water Bottles.
The Lanternfish is a great, life saving fish. It‘s tiny in size (the smallest just about 2 cm with some getting as big as 30 cm) and huge in mass (with over half the ocean‘s fish-mass consisting of our little friends). On a daily basis humans have set out to fight this little fish though – not by fishing and eating it – but by feeding it with plastic debris. The plastic water bottles you throw away, the plastic bags you use, even the micro beads in your toothpaste. It all ends up in landfills – or the oceans, forming new islands no one wants to visit for their summer holidays. Plastic garbage is not biodegradable but that doesn‘t mean it‘s not falling apart into itsy bitsy, teenie weenie pieces. Fragments so alike in size (just a few millimeters) and color (clear, white and blue) of our dear Lanternfish‘s favorite food: plankton. Can you blame it for eating the plastic we feed it and not just the plankton it should? The reason I‘m so concerned about the Lanternfish‘s diet and its inevitable and linked demise (think starvation since plastic is not really a superfood, and toxins, because plastic is not really free of those) is not (just) because I‘m an animal lover & vegetarian and its death is breaking my heart, it‘s actually out of a way more universal reason: if Lanternfish diminish we are loosing our best tool of getting rid of the carbon we still so eagerly produce. This little fish and its big family clan have the ability to decrease human-caused CO2 emissions. And not just by a bit, but by an estimated 20-35%. This is more than all the trees around you and me can take care of.
The next time you mindlessly pop your groceries into plastic bags or settle for the coke (the drink) dressed in plastic instead of glass (which tastes way better anyway), think of the Lanternfish and what it does for fighting the climate change we caused in the first place.
And They All Lived Happily Ever After
Thank you for staying with me on this one.
Now, go look at some art. I said art, not … oh, well whatever…
What’s up Next?
After all this non-art stuff let’s dig up some works again that I came by already a few weeks ago!
Like Home (Extended) – Letting Walls and Abstract Art Speak to You
Reliving Childhood Memories Through Abstract Works of Art
Last time we talked I let my thoughts wander off the beaten path while looking at artworks in a group show… well, today won’t be much different. But I’ll stay way, way closer to the road of looking at – and talking about – art. Promised!
Remember the Good Times
But before we get started and jump right into all the precious art a little tête-à-tête between you and an earlier post of mine is in demand. Remember that time when you read about me telling you that experiencing an exhibition to the fullest is not only about the artworks themselves being amazing but also the arrangement (aka curation) of those being intriguing? Yes? Great! No? Please scroll waay back up again!
Well, now that we are all on the same page (yes, right, of course you can still disagree with my view on curation) here’s another exhibition to take in when thinking curation done & gone right.
Like Home (Extended) by loop – raum für aktuelle kunst (Berlin)
2018. A typical Berlin “Altbau” apartment building, one that has escaped decades of renovation – at least so far. Now, lucky curator Rüdiger Lange got his hands on said building and did what anyone in their right mind should do: set up artshows in its living quarters.
The DeLorean Is Waiting for You
2018. But instantly, like right outside the building, definitely upon entering its premises I feel like joining Marty McFly on a trip back in time. A time when I was a kid, a teenager at most. But it’s not just the walls that speak in sentimental tones to me but the interior does so well as well. 2018. 1988. And my eyes are drawn to a square seducing me with RGB patterns that let you once dream of what you will be and make you now reflect on what you’ve actually become (1). Are you strong, are you fragile? Sometimes it’s hard to tell especially when you have become so good at disguising your true identity. What once came across as welcoming, yes empowering, the well-dressed arm of America’s true first lady, holding up her guiding flame, has become, in this day and age, a symbol of hypocrisy whose light is not to shine but to burn your fingers (2). But do not fret, the further we all advance, the more escapism is on your way. Right here, right now, like Kaa back there, back then, my mind is played with to the fullest, casting a spell on me and you. But now, that I’ve been there and back, I advise you to not be afraid and let it happen, just like when you were a child, eager to engulf yourself in secret made-up worlds (3). You see, I had a happy childhood, one that I don’t try to run away from – neither now nor then. What you might see as trauma, a giant mobile like figure, frozen in time, taking over not just your crib but suffocating you all around until today, is in my eyes a symbol of a tree that has been resisting all of times, expanding further in the future (4). From this tree comes material that lets me turn all that I come across today into mementos of imagination, notions of uncontrolled fantasies. And if you just dare to stay with me a little longer on this journey back in time today, maybe, just maybe, you can follow all my tales a little better than you anticipated. And being here in these chambers on this day, I know I’m not the only one that uses this material in the best way possible. It’s a neverending story, one that you should not, just don’t want to escape. No matter which way you turn, which angle you choose, you will always end up seeing something new. This story isn’t finished, and will never be. It’s a game that you can play forever, with ever changing story lines (5). But what was valid then, is not what you might encounter now. The paper fortune teller has resigned their duty long ago. What was once going to define your future is now a reflection of yourself, laughing back at you with its once many chances minimized to a, oh so, sought after and predictable result. But be aware, stainless steel can cause wounds worse, than any paper cut has ever done to you (6). I admit though, a reflection laughing back at you might at least still be helpful in some way. Way better than the discussions you have with your mirror on your bathroom wall. Don’t pretend you don’t remember how that one specific story went. Or are all your childhood memories burnt out and banned? So that when you see a mirror in front of you today, it’s you just looking at you and not the narcissistic meaning all we children knew? Well, what evolves in front of me is Snow White and her storyline not my own reflection. The mirror, your mirror, the seven dwarfs and her whitewashed self. The casket, so transparent as the story of her life itself. The scepter, well, or do you just want to leave that to my female gaze? (7) And thanks to the brothers Grimm’s unasked persistence, from Snow White it’s not far to Cinderella. Oh, you see, I do remember all those stories – but not once have I said that I actually ever liked them. You’ve just encountered first written proof for this here by yourself. But this is material for another narrative or work of art of mine. But for now, let’s focus on what’s right in front of us: the veil of Cinderella’s wedding dress. Token for the almighty happily ever after of the (dreaded) fairy tale. Painfully hand cut, letting time pass swiftly till the day finally arrives when the maiden turns into the swan and is paid off for all her work not by recognition nor income but a wedding ring (8). But let’s not finish off this tour of art and my childhood memories in such a tragic and upsetting mood. I ache for far happier thoughts and associations before I leave you free to wonder and struggle on your own in this gnarly world we lead today. If it were one color that would define my childhood it would be the color blue. But were it not subjectively and not one singular tone but rather a full color scheme, then we would all be thinking neon colors of all hues. And on this magical note, i.e. the power of colors and a newly instilled power of imagination, I will send you off to brighter lands… and times (9).
5) Maria Munoz
8) Fiene Scharp
Walls That Speak and Make Abstract Art Shine
And thanks to that environment of private chambers, not walls that have never seen the private lives of their many visitors, but rooms that are full with lives themselves, rooms that make you feel at home, I could easily relate all those works on view to my own life and memories. And that’s what fascinates me so extremely – that despite this being a group show combining lots (like really a lot) of works by different artists and despite these works being abstract works, I could find my own subjective storyline and personal references in it immediately.
Your Chance Will Come
And if you’re – rightfully so – jealous of the experience I got to encounter – don’t be sad, you’re chance will come. And not too far from now that even is. loop – raum für aktuelle kunst is setting up another show opening in September. Stay tuned and go get your childhood memories and wild associations ready.
What’s up Next?
Oh, hey, we’ll be going from abstract sculptures to figurative fibers next time round.
Fiber Artists on the Rise
Thoughts Provoked by Me, Myself and Marlon Wobst
Like a million years ago, I talked about childhood memories and abstract works of art. Now today, after a long long summer break, we’ll start off with figures and fibers and a painter gone felt artist! Sounds familiar? Right, like that one artist chick aka myself, photographer gone embroidery artist.
The Fiber Artist Snob
But let’s go back a bit to the moment when I first heard about Marlon Wobst’ exhibition “Haare” at Schwarz Contemporary, back to the moment when I was full of awkward prejudices. Prejudice is a sign of fear and, well, admittedly, I was honestly afraid of what I might come across the moment I would enter the gallery space. Yes, me. The fiber artist who herself always has to fight for her right to use embroidery as a fine art technique and not as a craft or decorative art tool. But I beg of you, don’t be too hard on me. See, there is a reason for my fearful prejudice. Right in my lovely street, there is a shop. A felt shop. With eggs, sunny-side up, and bacon, tulips and cheese. All made out of felt. For, to – actually, to be honest, I have no idea. Because it, ahem, looks pretty? Because you always wanted to decorate your living room with felted eggs and avocados? Beats me. Call me a fiber artist snob.
Please, Please Me
And hence, the fearful fiber artist elitist made its way to Kreuzkölln. Nervous, dizzy spells and sweaty palms included. Can I point out though that I – despite my judgmental thoughts – did actually go to see the felt art?! Thanks, I highly appreciate your approving mumbles.
But of course I could have saved some (negative) energy by not making all this fuss. ‘Cause you know what? The show was great. Felt art, I love you. Ok, hold your horses, Marlon Wobst’s felt art, I love you.
It’s always so wonderful to come across enlightening moments like this, I mean when you come across art that is way better than you would have ever expected. Hint. Another reason to go and look at art in real life not just online or in books. That feeling you get when seeing art you love directly in front of you will always beat seeing it online. Think watching porn and having actual sex.
Fiber Art for Fine Art
The lesson to learn from today’s write up is to not be biased or even straightforward averse towards artworks that don’t come from a tube of paint but from a spool of thread. Yes, absolutely, there is good and bad fiber art out there. No doubt about that. But do give it a chance. I know it’s hard with all its strong associations of craft and pillow decorations. And of course it’s hard – and that should not be easily dismissed – because of all the Etsy fiber works out there. Because of crocheting, cross-stitching, felting and weaving being the new yoga. Being trendy now as the latest fad to practice after work and when you can’t sleep. With all these cute and neat fiber works overpopulating all kind of social media platforms it can be tough to see that fiber art as fine art form can be highly political. That using yarn, felt or fabric is a conscious artistic choice – not only because it looks damn good’n’intriguing or, behold, might just be the best material and method to visualize what’s on the artist’s mind but also because those techniques come highly charged. Think gender roles, women and how to keep the ladies busy. Those works I’m talking about are not made to look cute, relieve us, the artists, from stress (quite often it’s the contrary!) or to garnish your dinner table. To believe that would be a misconception.
If you like what I just said, or are still full of disbelieve, I’ll recommend to head over to my sweet lil’ write up on fiber artist Patricia Waller.
What’s up Next?
Still no paintings. But think sculptures. That’s a legit fine art form, right?!
Émilie Pitoiset’s Moving Sculptures at Klemm’s Berlin
Getting Out of Your Artistic Comfort Zone
After ending my last write up with hopes of sculpture and fine arts for today’s lesson, you guys probably got all heated up dreaming of Michelangelo’s David and other marbles.
Well I’m sorry… but sculpture has already moved on.
Summer, Sun and Sculptures
For a few days Summer was back in Berlin. With its golden sun and warmth. With people smiling and hanging out in cafés and parks. Actually talking to each other not just a grunt here and there.
And because I’m still a human being – despite having been feeling a bit more like a machine the last couple weeks – I felt the urge to join my fellow sunbathers and hopped down those four flights of stairs like a rabbit released from its cage.
Off she went. A bit disorientated. It had been a while since I was wandering about my neighborhood. I wasn’t hungry, not even snackish, hence ice-cream as a destination didn’t quite make for an option. But when your head is full on buried in your own art and statements (well actually, it turned into a real manifest, I must admit) it’s quite helpful to remember that you’re not the only artist on this planet (that would actually be quite nice for a change, wouldn’t it? Talking to all those artists living in overdense artist-capitals aka sooo much competition aka no one’s curious to come across yet another artist. On that same note, you only think that way until you are the only artist somewhere and you end up being the village freak… life is tough. Angela, stop whining, keep typing.) Aaaaanyway, so I was meaning to say, it can be quite relieving to not look at your own art all the time but someone else’s works as well. So she did. Or planned to do. ‘Cause things took quite an unexpected turn.
Moving Sculptures, Moving my Mind
Off she went. Up a short flight of stairs and into the exhibition space of Klemm’s Berlin. Or so she thought.
Seconds later Frodo jumps at me, pulls me by his tiny side, pushes me down the rabbit hole, deep below some roots, hiding us from light and darkness. What to do? Scream? Probably a natural reaction. But when you look into a set of big blue eyes that penetrate your mind to please, please me and shut up… well, you do what you’re told. Sniffs and grunts holler over us while I don’t dare to move an inch. Sunshine and frolicking in the sun seems miles and Earths away. Then, first from far, then slowly coming closer, my ears detect the sound of some pretty decent hip-hop tunes. A beat hard to resist. Like the Pied Piper of Hamelin, this Ringwraith is trying to lure us, its prey, away from our comfort zone. A quick grip from Frodo’s hands forces me to stay put. But my eyes have seen what can’t be unseen: The rapping Nazgûl, complete with hoodie, chain and all. Hypnotizing. Frodo, you are a lucky one. As much as I can appreciate some quality rap music, these are not the kind of tunes to get me out my safe space. But we would be fools to believe our opponents would give up so easily. To tempt us they do not merely seduce us with a musical performance. Those figures know their moves. And show it too. It comes as no surprise that dance & music leads to more sports & chanting. Remember we are in Germany afterall. Think soccer, fans. And apparently, even after this year’s mess, it’s still the best selling, ahem, working tactic in this country here. Nazgûl shoots and scores. I almost feel sorry for that dark and hollow soul. I can admire how smooth you move – but no matter how good you are at what you do, my soccer obsessed times have long been gone.
And while the Ringwraiths do their moves, give a superb performance for my mind and eyes, a pegasus flies by, picks me up and carries me back into the last sunshine rays of this year’s summer season.
Yes, a pegasus. It’s my fantasy. And a pegasus it is.
The Moral of Today’s Little Fairy Tale
What works for me are not the jewels you care about but the stories you provoke in me.
What’s up Next?
That was nice for starters, right? Yep, you lucky peeps get yet another write up on contemporary sculptures to look forward to!
When Method and Material Met History and Haptic
Sculptures Gone Emotional feat. Flurin Bisig and My Childhood Memories
Yes, yes, we already talked sculptures not made of marble, not standing around in Florence last time (Important note: nothing against showing some naked men in art and non-art related situations though!). But since we’re already on that track (read: since I already broke you in at least a bit) let’s keep up that mood for another thought provoking comment (see, I got some good intentions!) from yours truly.
Here’s the thing: wood is awesome! Well, at least says the writer who grew up in the 1980s with some of her best toys being made from wood! Remember that material before plastic became the universal problem solver? But even in this day and age wood gets its chance and can happily tell its friends it’s part of something great. You should know me well enough by now that of course I’m talking art, not science. And surely you know by now that I will always prefer methods & material that have history & haptic over anything else. Remember, crochet, embroidery & felt!
Release Your Inner Child
Anyway, as I was saying – toys made out of wood, one thing. More awesome-and-incredibly-funny childhood memories come to mind though when thinking of wood as material in order to build things… and even better memories of how ridiculously unsuccessful my friends and I were at that task.
And it must come at not surprise that when I went to see the current exhibition 3X Sculpture at GNYP Gallery that Flurin Bisig’s wood sculpture evoked fond memories and intense emotions in my little mind and soul. Aaaand the very moment I put this thought into written words I see – and definitely hear – you, the sceptic reader, yell at me an unbelieving “Whaaat??”. Yes, you read me right. Let’s try and make that easier for you to grasp. My first thought was Trojan Rabbit. No, my historic knowledge is not fooling me, you can think Trojan Horse as well. Well, ok, alright, if horse is what you really want, than let’s talk about Flurin’s sculpture, all with title, shape and intriguing formation, infiltrating the gallery space, sneaking up on you, full of surprises. And we got a wonderful, deep going (art)historic discussion started. But if we go right away with the rabbit, not the horse, we don’t need all this sophisticated talk but could come straight to the emotional inner goods this creature has to offer us. So once again I say, the rabbit. And in my case, the rabbit comes with Monty Python and some of the best laughs I ever shared with the same friends who were as bad as me at making anything out of wooden planks, chunks and bits. When I stand in front of a sculpture that evokes all those memories, I do go through quite deep emotions. No matter how abstract the work. No matter how this was not the artist’s intention. Sorry, not sorry.
Now, I know, you’ll all say, wait all that childhood memory and abstract art talk, she used that all before. Well, I’ll probably use it again. And again. But here’s the thing. And a cool one too. It shouldn’t surprise you then but come as enlightenment aka “That makes total sense!”, that another one of Flurin Bisig’s wood sculptures is part of the follow up exhibition by curator Rüdiger Lange that made me talk about all my childhood memories related to abstract art in the first place. Ha!
The Material Fire is Made Of
Now, my dears, the next time you fire up your (imaginary) fireplace with twigs and logs (it is getting chilly, isn’t it?) think of this fantastic material. And of what you can make of it.
What’s up Next?
Let’s talk about some more exciting material when I take you on a ride through Art Berlin, version 2018.
Art Berlin or Lucky Lucy and the Berlin Gold Rush
An Art Fair to Remember
Hello to all of you who’ve made it to the other side! I’m talking Berlin Art Week of course! But, no worries no matter where you are, in Berlin, in bed or in New York, I got you covered as before with talks on art, material and my extremely subjective points of view. Yay!
So let me take you back a few days to Art Berlin at Flughafen Tempelhof, let me show you – once again, and no, I will not so easily give up on that one – that art is not just a painting decorating your living room!
Where the White Mustangs Reign
It’s getting cold, it’s getting gray, Berlin has seen its first fall days. And with this melancholic sensation of well known feelings of coming days with way less light, the artist-blogger-hybrid makes her way into the realms of a last late summer day. Well, of course I should have known better. Known from last year that art fairs might not be the best cure for early-fall-depression. While walking in through the big doors, into the halls of Tempelhof airport I cursed myself for not just strolling down Tempelhofer Feld instead. Strolling, touched by the sun, instead of by artificial, brutal (read: supposedly artwork friendly) light. But here she is, the lonely cowgirl, making her way through the cubicles that promise art for sale, and that’s the thing you have to understand, not necessarily for excitement. And while she rides through canyons and cubicles of art, plains and walls of static canvasses, with no sound nor emotion touching her art hungry soul, sees herds of white mustangs but so few mares, she feels a hollowness, a stingy pain of what still seems to sell best and make collectors happy. It’s a desert compared to what I come across each week that’s not branded Berlin Art Week in galleries throughout this city. No, no, don’t get me wrong, your cowgirl is indeed quite happy to see art being sold, galleries being able to go on existing and artists making money with their art and not by making coffee or cleaning houses. It’s just who and what still gets pushed to be part of that cycle that makes her feel so troubled.
Sanctuaries for a Troubled Soul
But hey, every desert has its oasis, right?! At least one source of water for your soul, mind and artistic taste. A place that embraces your needs politically and aesthetically. Equipped with such uplifting thoughts, she keeps on going, passing by more stables and hardened squares. But right she was! And your Lucky Lucy does not have to leave all disappointed after all. Fresh spring water does emerge from time to time, some water wells here and there, keeping everything – and me – alive.
Two of those refreshing sources I will point out for you today. One, that shouldn’t and actually doesn’t come as big surprise, since it’s one of my most favorite Berlin galleries, Tanja Wagner. Another one, a gallery from quite far away, from Chicago to be precise, even more precise: gallery Marc LeBlanc. And with those galleries come two artists’ works, one that literally embraces you, one that is full of embraces, hugs and even more intimate touches.
Art Berlin Luckily feat. Two Angels for Lucy
All those hours you spend circling around the art, you might easily forget that this is not just about you embracing art but the artworks embracing you. Oh, yes. And Šejla Kamerić series Maze will definitely not let you easily off the hook. See, it’s one thing to create artworks that look pretty in your living room and another to create artworks that have a political voice. It’s one thing to create political artworks and another to create them aesthetically appealing. It’s one thing to create artworks that hang on your wall and another to create works that fully come to life when worn in public, embracing every step you take. How do you like your Primark scarves and sweaters now?
And while you – and yes, me too – are all caught up in social media, blurting out images of art and bearers of important names, tweets of what we see and how you should feel about it all, Isabel Yellin and here sculpture series Velvet Concrete comes to save your soul and reminds not just herself but all of us of why people are out there giving you free hugs and why trying Kaspar Hauser will always end up badly.
Mirror, Mirror on the Wall
Once more, and no, not because my mind was set on this, but because this is just the way I am, of all the works to see at this mighty fair, the fairest of them all to me are based on fibers. Think haptic… and the sensation of touch.
What’s up Next?
Well, in this weather I wish I had a travel blog, researching sunny beaches and telling you about all the shades the ocean has. But I guess some dreamy paintings will cheer me up as well!
Vivian Greven – Constellations of Love, Pride and Sensation
The Picky Art Blog Lady
As you might have realized by now I do not talk that often about paintings here on my cozy lil’ blog. Let me assure you dear reader this has nothing to do with me not liking paintings or not having any cross-references to Hollywood blockbusters at hand that would lead me to an all excited, witty blog entry. No, no… it’s just that everybody else, from my friend A to my friend B, from the Späti guy to Jerry Saltz (I still love you, Jerry!), seems to talk about paintings when talking about art. And hence I have this urge to focus on, well, basically anything else than painting. But from time to time my love for some specific paintings do take control over my typing hands – and today is one of such occasions.
Drinking From Vivian Greven’s Fairy Tale Fountain
Another oasis at this year’s Art Berlin fair were the works by Vivian Greven, an artist you’re very likely to know, maybe not by name but if you’re Instagram savvy very likely by her works.
Luckily for all of us, in our post-Art-Week condition, Vivian Greven’s works are still on view at gallery Aurel Scheibler until Nov 10.
Lose Yourself in Wild Romance
Oh the excitement. Can you feel it? Everyone talking about it. So should you! And justified, it seems. So dreamy, so beautiful. And where can we meet them all? At the biggest event that early fall. Did you get an invite? Will we dance together? All those outstanding people to be found, at such close quarters this special time of year. And yes, of course, (what else did you expect?) some quite arrogant and money spilling characters as well. But hey, we came here for the fun and the love of beauty. Look at your heart swell when you see those two divine, god-like creatures, setting eyes (and almost lips) on each other. Pure bliss. But what a shame, that it’s all over, all too soon. This magic air, once full of admiration, is done and gone. And you are back to where you were before. Still wishing to see more of the lovers and their dance. Through all those dreary days, others try their best to engage you in their play as well. Some will leave you amused, some will outright enrage you. What foolishness and just bad, bad specimen are out there to be found, wanting all to be part of your life. No matter how hard you wish for those ones, this awful lot, to disappear, they will stay and with there mere existence lessen everything you value. And if that were not quite enough, no matter where you turn, which moment of virtue you encounter, you are never far from arrogance, from being cast aside. But when those characters do fall in love with you and what you have to offer, they will go to the greatest lengths, be sure of that, and make you succeed in all your plans. With all those new attentions, it’s no surprise you are all that overwhelmed, and proud yourself. But this is not the right time to be vengeful, but the time to remember why you came here in the first place. For love installed, lasting longer than that one week’s dance.
From Art Berlin and Amor & Psyche to Jane Austen
And for all of you who couldn’t follow my line of thought and writing, think not Art Berlin but Jane Austen and Pride & Prejudice.
Yeah, and for all of you who still cannot follow that line of thought, think Colin Firth, not version 1.0. but 2.0. and Bridget Jones. Maybe that helps. (Sorry, Jane Austen).
And yes, do go and check out Vivian Greven’s artworks at gallery Aurel Scheibler. Not just because the works are really good but because no matter which exhibition I have come to see so far at Aurel Scheibler, the people working here had always time to have an informative chat with me about the art on view.
What’s up Next?
OK, ok, we’ll stick with paintings and poetry.
Paolo Colombo – How to Serenely Stroke One’s Broken Soul
Love in the Time of Insanity
Hello again. I know, I know I took a break. Or maybe I should just say I was still way too much wrapped up in Vivian Greven’s paintings to just go on write about some other art?
But to be honest, I indeed have been busy. With new works in the making but mainly with fighting bad tempered people and the setting fall. But let’s not stay moody but positive. And when you let love happen it will come to you, when you let others heal you, they will do. Or so I forcibly told myself – and I must admit my mantra did not disappoint. The moment I allowed my eyes to touch (or rather: my soul to get touched by) Paolo Colombo’s watercolor paintings, recuperation was immediate.
But let’s take it slow – and let me take you with me on yet another journey, through time, and yes, space as well.
Paolo Colombo’s Watercolor Paintings at Baert Gallery, L.A.
Flash back. To many, many years ago. To the city I would still call the love of my life. The city of fog, ocean and bay. I once called North Beach my home. At a time when the Mission was a place to avoid not to sit down for a fancy brunch or to grab a decaf triple almond latte. What made me fall in love with this city were the little things. Like going grocery shopping, walking up and down the hills with the blue of the bay and the Pacific Ocean always by your side. The ocean. Serenity, peace. And that mesmerizing feeling of instantly leading a better life, being a better person.
But it’s not just a sea of calming waves in Paolo Colombo’s works that remind me of San Francisco, me living there to be specific, but also the poetry that comes with the works. Not just in words but in the ever so soft brush strokes, the very ones that neatly weave the ocean waves for me as well.
City Lights Bookstore. Caffè Trieste… even though I rarely went there, since this was the place where my stalker worked at (true story, but maybe for another blog post). I’m getting nostalgic and sea driven because of being deprived from the sea and because of thinking of times when I just started out studying art, when everything was simple and easy. Just because I was young? No, because I was an art world virgin, if you like. It was all fun and games. And the ocean to complete this picture perfect picture.
Infuse Yourself with Art
And hence you see, what made me fall in love with San Francisco is what made me fall in love with Paolo Colombo’s works. A feeling of tranquility, of being home and yet far away from all worldly concerns.
If you don’t have access to the sea – or even if you do – I recommend you to look at Paolo Colombo’s works on view till Nov 3 at Baert Gallery, Los Angeles and gain some serenity for your rushed and hurried life, some poetic stimulation and romantic connotations for your uninspired existence.
What Is Left to Say
I love artworks that have the power to calm you down and stimulate you at the same time. That is not a paradox, it just means they are in balance within themselves and can offer you this precious gift as well. Take it, don’t let it go by, unseen, unfelt.
What’s up Next?
Change in plan. Things came up. Time to talk!
White Lies or The Big Bad Bang
When Netflix and Chill Met Despina Stokou and White Lies
Obviously, many things crossed my senses last week. Two of such things stuck with me and somehow connect to each other – or rather it is time we connect them with each other. Two things that even the bluest of oceans could not cover up with serenity and peace.
One. I was looking at popular culture to find ideas for new artworks and finally figured out why I am appalled by “The Big Bang Theory”.
Two. I was looking at contemporary art to find ideas for exhibitions to write about on my blog and came across, once again, Despina Stokou’s works, i.e. her current exhibition White Lies at Derek Eller Gallery, New York.
Let’s talk about Sex―ism
Step by step, you might, you should, understand why today my writing tone is so somber, not funny and surely not cheerful. We’ll come back to that manner another time. On my mind right now are issues I am dealing with not only as human participant in this game called The World We Live In but as an artist as well. This is not a personal struggle, even though it can easily feel like it. This is a global struggle, or at least it should be. Looking at Despina’s art and reading her press release soothes me because it makes me feel less alone, but it also angers me because it so harshly reminds me that we still have to stand up against all this BS and that we as artists still have and see the urge to make artworks discussing that same BS. There are many, often interlinked, issues that keep our minds and creating hands restless. But because of my most recent research, let’s stay with one of those many for today: sexism.
Let’s Talk About You and Me
Ever since (hopefully before that, come to think of it) “Grab them by the pussy” got publicized, “everyone” has been freaking out about Trump and his sexist and misogynistic behavior – and rightly so. All the while millions of people – and I’m just going to throw this out there: including millions of those who are outraged by Trump’s sexist behavior and comments – happily keep on watching and laughing along TV series like “The Big Bang Theory”.
As an artist who utilizes figures from popular culture and mainstream media in her artworks, I’m always curious about hypes in this field and hence a few years ago watched some short clips of TBBT as well. But I was always in awe after seeing those snippets, I just couldn’t warm up to the show – but at the same time I couldn’t quite put my finger on what exactly caused that feeling. Eventually I just let the series circle out of my (oh so naïve) mind and artworks. As I said earlier on, recently I decided to look into this very show again and for the first time actually watched some full episodes. O.M.G.
Before I go on writing my heart out, let’s all keep in mind that I am talking about one of the most popular sitcoms in the US right now. A show airing for more than a decade. If you’re not familiar with the series, now is the time to google, youtube it and such.
Here’s Why I’m So Upset
When watching TBBT, it appears that the message throughout the show is this: as long as you are a nerd, due to the characteristics (read: stigmata) set upon you (not only by IRL prejudice but also distinctly by the show itself), you are not marked as sexual predator but sexual novice that deserves empathy. As a consequence you are deemed as “harmless”, meaning that due to your cute nerdy behavior you have received a universal “OK” to sexually harass, patronize and degrade women. (Hint: no, it’s not)
Or in other words, what such sitcoms show us is that as long as sexist behavior is aimed at making us laugh, it’s ok. As long as it is an overly dorky, sexually inexperienced person saying:
“You know, she [Marie Curie] was kind of an honorary man. She had a penis made of science.”
“A woman is like an egg salad sandwich on a warm Texas day. Full of eggs and only appealing for a short time.”
it’s acceptable, right?. (Hint: I don’t think so.)
I’m only gently touching the iceberg here. Yes, there is way more. And if you want (and you should) a more thorough view on sexism and The Big Bang Theory, have a look at the video The Adorkable Misogyny of The Big Bang Theory by Pop Culture Detective (aka Jonathan McIntosh) – and while you’re at it, also check out his follow up video The Complicity of Geek Masculinity on the Big Bang Theory.
It’s Time to Put One and Two Together
As important it is to call out people in our society for their sexist and misogynist behavior, we should not excuse such behavior just because it’s meant to entertain us. It is time to connect what we criticize in real life with what is causing some “good laughs” in popular culture.
The Silver Lining of This Blog Post
Today, I talked much about a TV series and my feelings regarding it and little about the artist and the artworks that motivated me to write down these thoughts. But I believe, that this is the power – and the beauty – of art. That it can inspire you, the contemplator, to question what you have long taken for granted or deemed ok, to start new discussions and to seek change.
What’s up Next?
For my own sake, yes, yes and of course yours as well, next time we’ll try and go back to a place of tranquility.