Basel has happened. Venice opening weekend has passed. The European art world is about to fall into the languid slumber of summer. If you are like me, also known as poor, and you didn’t get to attend these events then perhaps your art fix has yet to be satisfied. Fortunately for us, galleries are free and open at least until August before the new season begins. Berlin has a few shining stars this summer, so take notes because there is a lot to see and the sunshine is distracting.
We’ll begin our summer sojourn at Blain|Southern, housed in the cavernous printing press facilities of the old Tagesspiegel Building, where Turkish-German artist Nasan Tur’s exhibition At your own ____. seems placed rather timely given the recent upheavals in Turkey and Brazil. Tur has transformed the main gallery in an echoing cacophony of the German word “Kapital” repeated phonetically. A towering grid of 800 ink-on-paper drawings of the actual phonetic spellings, a painstaking undertaking, supports the bulk of the installation. The upstairs gallery contains delicate sculptures of tightly wound banners and cans of spray paint. Protest packs, if you will, that carry the weight of activism even in their quiet and unassuming status.
Elmar Vestners; Courtesy of the artist and SEPTEMBER, Berlin.
A few houses down on Potsdamer Strasse, Klosterfelde is displaying a selection of works by Bas Jan Ader. The Dutch-born, California based artist mysteriously disappeared in the early 70s when he set sail on the smallest boat destined to cross the Atlantic. His untimely death during the completion of his life’s work In Search of the Miraculous is oft considered to be the artist’s ultimate gesture. The gallery is showcasing several rarely shown photographs and two video works from the artist’s final project.
As we continue on our own search for the sublime we skip across town to Exile on Skalitzer Strasse in Kreuzberg. CV CE LA VIE, by artist Katharina Marszewski, is a collection of paintings and sculptural installations providing some abstract relief to the heavily conceptual work we’ve seen so far. The artist’s first solo show at the gallery is a promising example of a new direction in her practice.
Installation view of PAINT / IMAGE / BILD / FARBE at Galerie Nordenhake, Berlin. Image includes: Paul Fägerskiöld, E 140, 2012, acrylic on canvas; Robert Ryman, Untitled, 1969, oil on fiberglass; Phil Sims, Untitled painting, 1985, oil on canvas; Courtesy of the artists and Galerie Nordenhake, Berlin.
While in the neighborhood, make sure to check out the opening at September for Elmar Vestner on Friday the 28th. From there, head over to Galerie Nordenhake for Paint/Image/Bild/Farbe, a startling group exhibition of monochromatic paintings. The following week, another promising group exhibition will open a little further down the street at VeneKlasen Werner titled Several species of small furry animals gathered together in a cave and grooving with a pict. The roster is exciting with works on display by artists Manon de Boer, Moyra Davey, Esther Klaes, and Pietro Roccasalva among others.
Summer is the best time to be in Berlin. The days are long and the nights are lively and warm. Make sure to grace your lazy days in the park with some art along the way. We’ll see you somewhere on the drift to September (the month, and maybe the project space, too.)
(Image on top: Nasan Tur, installation view of Variationen von Kapital, 2013, Indian ink on Tibetan paper, each: 40 x 60 cm / framed each: 42.2 x 62.2 cm; Photo: Christian Glaeser; Courtesy of the artist and Blain|Southern, Berlin.)