Katharina Grosse at Hamburger Bahnhof (and More!)

Oh, how I’ve missed museums! I wanted to see Katharina Grosse‘s “It Wasn’t Us” exhibition so badly! First, I love her immersive work. Second, coming back to Hamburger Bahnhof, one of Berlin’s best museums of modern and contemporary art, was a good idea, as I’ve been there once as a child and I forgot how great this place is. Now, back to Grosse. A painting by her can appear anywhere. Her large-scale works are multi-dimensional pictorial worlds in which splendid color sweeps across walls, ceilings, objects, and even entire buildings and landscapes. For “It Wasn’t Us” the artist has transformed the Historic Hall of Hamburger Bahnhof as well as the outdoor space behind the building, into an expansive painting which radically destabilises the existing order of the museum architecture. Katharina Grosse’s latest in-situ painting disregards the boundaries of the museum space in a grand and colourful gesture: “I painted my way out of the building,” said Grosse in relation to her work. Over the course of several weeks a vast new painting has emerged that stretches across the Historic Hall and into public space, over the extensive grounds behind the museum, landing finally on the façade of the so-called Rieckhallen which were inaugurated as a part of the museum complex in 2004. Grosse’s kaleidoscopic painting brings together colours and forms, natural and man-made surroundings and its visitors as participants in an all-encompassing, pulsating interaction of hues. The boundaries between objects, and between horizontal and vertical orientations begin to melt away, and the work’s scale continuously shifts depending on the visitor’s position. As the viewer moves through the painting new spaces emerge that are both artificial and ripe with associations, and at the same time completely real, forcing us to renegotiate our habitual ways of seeing, of thinking about, and of perceiving the world around us. The choice of the location and the many different factors and conditions it entails have influenced the development of the painting, just as the permanently shifting lines of sight of the viewer and unexpected interactions with the work affect our ways of perceiving it in the exhibition setting. In this sense, the work’s title, It Wasn’t Us, can be understood as a reference to the inherent complexity and unpredictability of a given situation, whether it be the conditions under which artists create their work, or the conditions under which it is later viewed. The painting exists only for the duration of the exhibition – which is open util the 10th of January 2021.

At the moment there’s also another exhibition going on at Hamburger Bahnhof, titled “Magical Soup“. Spaciously presented across more than 2,000 square metres in the museum’s Rieckhallen complex, the group exhibition features key works complemented by loans representing the latest generation of artists, with a common point of departure being the nexus of sound, image and social space. “Magical Soup” brings together works by the media art pioneers Nam June Paik, Jochen Gerz, Charlemagne Palestine, Ulrike Rosenbach and Keiichi Tanaami; by the multimedia artists Nevin Aladağ, Stan Douglas, Cyprien Gaillard, Douglas Gordon, Rodney Graham, Dmitry Gutov, Anne Imhof, Joan La Barbara, Pipilotti Rist (her installations are so powerful!), Diana Thater, Lawrence Weiner, Nicole Wermers and David Zink Yi; and by the younger artists Korakrit Arunanondchai, Trisha Baga, Dineo Seshee Bopape, Christine Sun Kim, Sandra Mujinga and Sung Tieu. Here are some of my favourites, combined with the Hamburger Bahnhof’s permanent gallery, feauturing some good old Andy Warhol and Joseph Beuys:

All photos by Edward Kanarecki.

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