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.

Atelier Brancusi

This place was on my “must see” list for a while. Finally, I visited Centre Pompidou’s Atelier Brancusi – a standalone pavillon dedicated to Constantin Brancusi‘s work. Born in Romania in 1876, Brancusi lived and worked in Paris from 1904 until his death in 1957, and this is where he produced most of his forever-inspiring work. In his will, he bequeathed his entire studio to the French state. Brancusi considered the relationship between sculptures and the space they occupied to be of crucial importance. In the 1910s, by laying sculptures out in a close spatial relationship, he created new works within the studio which he called “mobile groups“, stressing the importance of the connections between the works themselves and the possibilities of each for moving around within the group. In the next decades, the studio became an exhibition space for his work, and a work of art in its own right: a body consisting of cells that all generated each other. This experience of looking from within the studio at each of the sculptures, thus perceiving a group of spatial relationships, led Brancusi to revise their positions every day to achieve the unity he felt most apposite.At the end of his life, Brancusi stopped creating sculptures and focused solely on their relationship within the studio. This proximity became so fundamental that the artist no longer wanted to exhibit, and when he sold a work, he replaced it with plaster copy so as not to destroy the unity of the group. The present reconstruction, built by the architect Renzo Piano, is presented as a museum space containing the studio. Piano’s problem lay in making the space open to the public while respecting the artist’s wishes. While the architect did not attempt to recreate the intimacy of the original, he preserved the idea of a protected, interiorised space where visitors are isolated from the street and the piazza, in particular by an enclosed garden, from which part of the studio can be seen through a glass wall. I’ve spent there about 30 minutes, trying to absorb as much as possible with my eyes. And I went out feeling as relaxed as after a lovely spa.

Photos of the exhibition by Edward Kanarecki.

(P.S. If you are inspired by my Parisian coverage, I’m really happy about, but please have in mind that now isn’t a safe time for any sorts of travelling. Stay at home!)

Boros Collection in Berlin

Two months after booking a tour place, I finally arrived to one of Berlin‘s most intriguing, art spaces – The Boros Collection. How to describe it in the most easy way? It’s fascist bunker turned into Soviet banana storage turned into illegal techno club turned into museum of contenporary art. Christian Boros’ private collection of contemporary art comprises groups of works by international artists dating from 1990 to the present. Different facets of the collection are on public display in the bunker, with 3000 sqm exhibition space. The current exhibition presents such artists as Guan Xiao, Uwe Henneken, Sergej Jensen, Katja Novitskova, Pamela Rosenkranz and Johannes Wohnseifer. And now I tell you this: visiting the place is an EXPERIENCE, whether you’re into modern art or not. Book a tour here!

Photos by Edward Kanarecki.

Cai Guo-Qiang

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Cai Guo-Qiang is the moment’s artist, whic uses fake animal figures in his monumental installations. His current exhibition called “Falling to Earth” happens at GOMA Art Gallery in Australia, and it’s situated in a huge, white space, where the only sound heard are water droplets falling down from the ceiling. Here, you might see wolves replicas flying in the air and a huge crystal blue pool, from which such animals like leopards, polar bears and tigers drink… “My idea of making this work is not to do any criticism or replication but to focus on what it means for sculptors to create realist sculptures in the time the work was created. …The end goal is not to make perfect sculptures and have them exhibited elsewhere and then have them collected somewhere. The key is to focus on the process of fabrication of these artworks, to pay attention to the process of the artists making these sculptures, rather than where these sculptures will end up and how they will look in the end.” said the New York based artist. Surely the idea has a very strong aim… what do you think of these a bit creepy installations?

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Lynn Chadwick

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Lynn Chadwick is an artist that’s mostly famous his for amazing metal sculptures. found international recognition when he became the youngest person ever to win the Venice Biennale’s prized sculptor award. His career spanned over 50 years, but he did not always plan on being an artist. Since I have seen his amazing works from 60-70’s I am seriously obsessed with metal sculptures and installations- one of my favourite is the Lion and the Detector. Recently his works are displayed by Blain Group in London, Berlin and soon in New York as Lynn Chadwick: Retrospectives!

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