After twelve years of fusing fine art with pop art and subcultural art, Circle Culture is now opening its third gallery, in addition to its other two venues in Berlin-Mitte and Hamburg. The generous proportions of the 560 sqm space provide a broadened range of possibilities for the presentation of artworks. The inaugural exhibition highlights the gallery’s constantly evolving and synthesizing nature with 23 artistic positions from Italy, Iceland, Mexico, USA, Germany, France, Austria and the UK. 13 of those were already represented by the gallery, whilst 10 new artists will document a continuously maturing program.
Circle Culture, led by Johann Haehling von Lanzenauer and co-owned by his Hamburg-based business partner Dirk Staudinger, has always had the ambition to look beyond the boundaries of genre and convention to spot innovative art. Starting out as a project space in 2001, the gallery quickly became the go-to spot for art inspired by urban subcultures. But, rather than focusing on works that fitted with the urban art cliché, Johann Haehling von Lanzenauer was always pushing the artistic boundaries of the gallery, seeking works that one would not automatically associate with urban art: rather than merely showing graffiti and street art, instead, abstract works, conceptual positions and installations were also on display.
Not satisfied with leading a successful art dealership, Johann Haehling von Lanzenauer actively strove to stimulate and deepen the discourse on urban art. For the exhibitions “The Urban Artist I +II" and "Berliner Strasse I+II", he collaborated with the art history department at the Humboldt University in Berlin. His exhibition "Abstract Expressionism in Urban Art” was the first to establish a connection between Pollock, Rothko and the art of the streets. A crossover was made to academic art with an exhibition of works by Prof. Arno Rink, director of the Leipzig Academy of Visual Arts and teacher of Leipzig School painter Neo Rauch.
Highlights of the inaugural exhibition include artist Maya Hayuk, who will create a mural especially for Circle Culture. Living in New York, her work has been presented in museums from São Paulo to San Francisco, and she recently had two solo exhibitions in renowned institutions: at L.A.’s Hammer Museum and at the Bonnefanten Museum in Maastricht. Her strikingly colorful, large-scale wall paintings reflect advanced technology and traditional folklore in equal measure, providing an immersive, psychedelic viewing experience.
New works will also be presented by Black Forest-based artist Stefan Strumbel, who is currently working on the scenography for Puccini’s “La Bohème”, due to premiere at Staatsoper Stuttgart in Spring 2014. The artist rose to fame with ironic, over-the-top objects and installations that dealt with the themes of homeland, tradition and heritage and was featured recently on the cover of the New York Times Magazine. Now, a very different side of Strumbel’s artistic practice will be on display: instead of his well- known sculptures of reappropriated traditional objects such as cuckoo-clocks and crucifixes, Strumbel will present delicate works on paper, re-interpreting his own work. With this, he follows in the footsteps of “photocopy art” practiced by artists such as Sigmar Polke and Markus Oehlen.
Circle Culture’s innovative approach to contemporary urban art will be further reflected in the works by Italian artists Marco “Pho” Grassi and Teo “Moneyless” Pirisi. Both artists have a “street” background but went into fine art. Moneyless creates murals and installations of three-dimensional abstract worlds made up of intricate lines. Pho’s explosive works demonstrate how his expressive abstract painting style was influenced by his experience as an infamous graffiti artist in the Nineties. At POTSE 68, he will introduce his new project. Called Le Grand Verre, (a reference to Marcel Duchamp’s iconic work by the same name) it merges abstract painting, photography and light art into new perspectives on the history of art.
The new location is in a part of the city that is defined by contradictions. Here, in classical Berlin fashion, strip clubs are right next to elegant couture boutiques whilst the legendary Wintergarten Varieté, Neue Nationalgalerie and a Döner Kebab shop are amongst Circle Culture’s new neighbors. The historical venue at Gipsstrasse 11 in Berlin-Mitte will remain a part of Circle Culture and yet start a new life as a store for art editions and multiples.