Berlin Art Week

Berlinische Galerie

17-22nd September 2013

November 12, 2013
by Johanne Björklund Larsen
Painting Forver! Franz Ackermann Installation at Berlinische Gallery, Berlin, September 2013

Painting Forver! Franz Ackermann Installation at Berlinische Gallery, Berlin, September 2013

What mainly drew me to Berlinische Galerie during this years Berlin Art Week was the show Painting Forever! Initiated by the Berlin Senate’s Administration for Economics, Technology and Research, the city’s Chancellery for Cultural Affairs and Deutsche Bank, Berlinische Galerie has, together with four other of Berlin’s leading institutions, joined forces to celebrate the importance of painting as a focal medium in the visual arts world since the 19th this celebration, upcoming artists merge with established and renowned names to embrace the multitude of ways painting has been explored for the last two centuries.

Berlinische Galerie contributes to the project with an exhibition with work by painter Franz Ackermann. His huge canvases are the first that meets the visitor when entering the gallery space. They are it a feast of vivid pop-colors with contrasting black details, depicting various spacey, sci-fi scenes. The composition of jagged shapes emphasizes Ackermann’s hedonistic ideals, and the enormous abstractions are hung at varying and random spaces upon the wall. In addition to these framed works, he has covered one of the long walls, as well as the two shorter sides, with paintings in similar colors and style for compliment and contrast. United, he creates almost a 3D-effect, by taking advantage of the contrasts in line as well as color. It brings to mind rave-parties and TV-shows on Disney Channel, as well as artistic graffiti. These associations generate the feeling of watching a contemporary, 21st Century painter producing works that could not have been made in any other time frame.

But Painting Forever! is not the only exhibition on show; several other smaller displays and projects are exhibited through the museum. One of the most fascinating of these is the photo series Trona by photographer Tobias Zielony. He here portrays the drug-addled youths of the decaying desert commune Trona, in the outskirts of the Death Valley, California in US. Though the project at first may seem clichéd, the portrayal of the wasted youth in a crumbling town is a warm rendering. Instead of relying on the effect of provoking shocks with the unconventional, Zielony’s photos are sincere and realistic rather than exposing and aggravating. But what is most crucial (and distressing) is the way he manages to reproduce the restlessness of a place that is slowly dying and the repercussions on the residents; drugs are done when there is nothing else to do.

Another of his series, Jenny, Jenny, is also on display. Here he shows a moment in time of female sex workers, and their fluid lives in the night. Despite the entrancing nature of the photos, there remains an objective distance between the image and viewer; the warmth, curiosity and hope of salvation is not the same as his Trona series.

Various other exhibits are on show in the museum, from oversized sculptures and the changing videos in the 12×12 IBB video lounge. Some are fascinating and exciting, whilst some remain on the obscure outskirts of the artworld.

The main problem throughout the museum is Berlinische Galerie’s use of space. At many places the installations appear to have been cramped into too small a space. For example, the case of Franz Ackerman display. His trippy paintings would have had more impact in an airier room, giving the works the opportunity
century. In for full mind-blowing effect, necessary to bring them to life. Simultaneously, and rather strangely, are back parts of other rooms empty, with pieces placed in front in an attempt to cover the absurdly unoccupied space behind. Altogether the curation is incoherent, and there is an overriding sense of too many different exhibitions pushed together into too small a place. It is a pity, since the museum does offer several brilliant artists with great works.

A trip to Berlinische Galerie is absolutely worth it though, for anyone with interest in contemporary art. While it feels slightly pop-up, they must get creditfor daring to show such a huge range of artists and such variation of media.