Gallery Weekend Berlin is only moments away and once again, Berlin’s gallerists have pulled out all the stops to charm collectors, curators and critics alike. Dozens of interesting shows will be on display across the city, and for those just visiting on this particular occasion, seeing all of them will likely prove impossible. But we have a few key criteria to help you on your way. First, don’t limit yourself to official participants, as there are plenty of non-participating initiatives proposing stimulating exhibitions. Second, save for a few exceptions, you might want to ditch shows by old white dudes (you’ve seen it before and you’ll see it again), and get acquainted with the many exciting up-and-comers set to make waves. And if you can’t be bothered to do it yourself, we’ve got you covered. Here are eight unmissable events handpicked by SLEEK for your GWB pleasure.
Jo Baer at Barbara Thumm
Jo Baer was a major protagonist of New York’s minimal art scene up until the 1970s, whereafter she abandoned abstraction for figuration instead. Her recent works are wondrous, airy collages that draw on different art historical chapters and characters. Chronology is crunched together to pleasing effect, so that within a single work figures from Picasso’s “Las Meninas” might be found cosying up to a Stonehenge pillar. At Barbara Thumm, she’ll present a series of drawings – mostly created as preliminary sketches to her larger canvases – as well as two paintings. Here too, Baer blends historical images, like the prehistoric Lion-man and Cretan frescoes, into seductive temporal puzzles.
Haptic House at Horseandpony Fine Arts
The group show “Haptic House”, at Neukölln project space Horseandpony, boasts an impressive ensemble of artists, from Zuzanna Czebatul, Zsófia Keresztes and Maximilian Schmötzer to the feminist punk poet, Kathy Acker. According to the (rather cryptic) blurb, the space will act as a facilitative landscape for the works on display to become multi-functional, personalised versions of themselves, specifically designed for the viewers. Suffice to say, we are very intrigued.
Louise Bourgeois at Schinkel Pavillon
The Schinkel Pavillon’s team scored a great coup with this exhibition of the French-American artist, Louise Bourgeois, already open at the Mitte space. “The Empty House” focuses on Bourgeois’ “sack forms” – works that embody the artist’s predominant interest in architecture and the female anatomy during the last two decades of her life. The sacks’ architectonic elements are linked to Bourgeois’ earlier cell installations, which the artist began making in 1991. She described these evocative sculptures as articulating “different types of pain: physical, emotional, psychological, mental and intellectual pain … each cell is concerned with the pleasure of the voyeur, with the attraction of seeing and being seen.” In the Schinkel show, as ever, Bourgeois’ ability to translate raw emotion into compositions of exquisite restraint proves breathtaking.
Rebecca Ackroyd at Peres Projects
Young British sculptor Rebecca Ackroyd gets her Berlin début at Peres Projects’ grand premises on Karl-Marx Allee. Her work examines themes of movement and immobility, finding poetry in the grey area that exists between the two. Through large, painstaking drawings and rugged sculptures, she asks whether bodies can find agency within these hard-to-define contexts. A mini preview of her Berlin exhibition was shown earlier this year at New York’s Independent Fair, to considerable acclaim. And it’s not surprising – the gestural poise that Ackroyd displays in her work is uncanny. “The Mulch”, as the show is titled, is not to be missed.
Yu Honglei at Kraupa-Tuskany Zeidler
Kraupa-Tuskany Zeidler is the go-to destination for white-hot, emerging artists. This GWB, they’re exhibiting the work of Yu Honglei, whose work most definitely falls into this category. The Chinese artist is best known for his beguiling sculptures, which prove difficult to classify, resembling Central Asian carvings as much as they do 1990s Alessi kitchen appliances or visually sophisticated aliens. At KTZ’s Kreuzberg space, Honglei will present a series of new works in resin and bronze, alongside a video installation, showcasing his ability to pick aspects from China’s digital and physical quotidian, and commingle them into surprising concoctions.
Edouard Baribeaud at Galerie Judin
French artist Edouard Baribeaud’s indisputable command of drawing and printmaking techniques gives his works a delightful intricacy. In a 2015 interview, the artist described himself as “a storyteller who draws,” and indeed, it’s easy to lose yourself in his in his adroitly detailed works, which combine 19th-century aesthetics and surrealist storylines with a deep knowledge of Indian miniature painting. Galerie Judin is located on Potsdamer Straße so if you’re planning to attend any of the GWB openings this Friday, make sure to pop by the show.
Julian-Jakob Kneer at Center
Julian-Jakob Kneer hails from Basel, which – aside from hosting the world’s most important art fair, and several frightening pharma companies – is home to the only protestant carnival in existence. His show at Room E-10 27 at Center takes inspiration from this annual display of Saturnalian partying, honing in on the character Waggis – usually portrayed as an outsider. The artist links this symbol of inadequacy to emos, loners and other so-called cultural misfits, highlighting the power dynamics inherent to such categorisations, and the violence this can spark.
Simon Fujiwara at Galerie Wedding
Simon Fujiwara’s interest lies in (often personal) storytelling, and the friction between the subjective and objective perceptions of it. His show “Joanne” centres on the tale of his former art teacher, an objectively attractive woman who was fired from her job when a photoshoot she starred in was subjectively deemed too raunchy by her employer. Viewers are confronted with an empathetic video portrait of Joanne – but Fujiwara gives his work a clever, quasi-Lynchian twist by infusing it with the visual codes of an athleisure brand ad. By glazing this story of redemption with a thick layer of aspirational aestheticism, the artist creates a work that is highly current in its interrogation of factuality.
Gallery Weekend Berlin runs from April 25-27 2018