Jens Asthoff

  • Anna Oppermann

    Anna Oppermann (1940–1993) is best known for her “ensembles”—expansive and complex assemblages of drawings, photographs, notes, and found objects that she developed, often over the course of years, in idiosyncratic creative processes. The fruits of an approach that was both intensely visual and tenaciously reflective, her ensembles are explicitly open works. Oppermann had earlier constructed still lifes but later said that she often found the preparatory work more compelling than the final paintings. At some point, she began simply to leave the constructions up, in part because in many instances

  • Dasha Shishkin

    At the center of Dasha Shishkin’s work is a cast of characters hopelessly entangled, torn apart by desire, or pleasurably relaxed as they let themselves go. Everything is suffused with erotic tension, surging up and undermining systems of order. Shishkin has long been working on a recalibration of painterly figuration, exploring the human and especially the female figure in relation to pictorial space. In staging her characters, she emphasizes the carnal, keeping their bodies, whether filled with lust or just calmly being themselves, close to dissolution in color field structures. The animal

  • Anne Neukamp

    This exhibition’s title, the triad “ALT-MOA-BIT,” sounded like onomatopoeia or an abstract battle call but was actually derived from the name of the street on which Gregor Podnar recently opened a new gallery space in Berlin’s Mitte district. In this regard, the title of Anne Neukamp’s third solo show with the gallery performed a kind of consecration of the new location. The first hyphen mirrored the normal spelling of the street name, Alt-Moabit; the second was her addition. The graphic tripartition she thus implemented lent the name a forceful rhythm.

    In defamiliarizing an element found in

  • picks October 15, 2019

    Alexander Heim

    With “Fifty Typhoons,” his fourth solo show at this gallery, Alexander Heim is exhibiting a set of small-format mural reliefs and room installations. The sculptural praxis of the London-based artist is rooted in casting and recasting found objects, often industrial products, in synthetic materials. For his 2012 exhibition here, he made sculptures out of found auto parts: Elegantly cut hoods or fenders were transformed into abstract wall objects, while headlights and smaller autobody parts were reworked with clay and polyester resin, metamorphosing into amorphous forms. In 2015, he squeezed clumps

  • Thea Gvetadze

    Thea Gvetadze’s exhibition “Subtropical Ushguli” coincided with the opening of this year’s Tbilisi Art Fair in Georgia, where her work also appeared in the show “Four Discourses” alongside that of three Georgian artists of different generations. The conjunction of these presentations confirmed Gvetadze’s prominence within the country’s contemporary art scene. If “Four Discourses” gave context to her work, the solo show offered a welcome opportunity to delve more deeply into her oeuvre, which spans diverse mediums, including painting, ceramics, relief, drawing, and installation. The paintings

  • Linda McCue

    Linda McCue, a Canadian painter who lives in Hamburg, called her recent show “Surfacing” after the novel of the same title, in which Margaret Atwood, a fellow Canadian, probes questions of personal and national identity, gender, and memory—themes that recognizably play a part in McCue’s work. Objects from the artist’s childhood, whose images are stamped on her mind, surface in many of her works. Rather than figuring in narratives, however, these objects operate as a concentrate of sorts, embodying recollections and undergoing iterative variation with a focus on their formal aspects. Porcelain

  • picks July 17, 2019

    Salome Machaidze

    The wall text for Salome Machaidze’s recent exhibition recounts the fictional story of “Vancouverian rebellion huckers on motorcycles . . . who decided to use non-biodegradable plastic bags instead of paper to create art, write history, and create databases that will never fade, disappear, evaporate, or vanish.” It goes on to explain that disposable plastic has been rarified through art—the high demand has reduced supply and thus mitigated climate change. The utopian theme builds upon an ironic and enthusiastic fantasy of art as vendetta, as a transformer that promises, through a radical

  • Goutam Ghosh

    The Kunsthaus Hamburg and its director, Katja Schroeder, pulled off a coup in presenting “Reptiles,” the first institutional solo show in Europe by the Indian artist Goutam Ghosh. The generously spaced hanging of the exhibition, designed together with the artist’s help, gave his paintings (and a 16-mm film, PAARA, 2017, made in collaboration with artist Jason Havneraas) ample room to unfold their subtle visual idiom. The works were mounted unusually low on the walls; the artist wanted to keep them deliberately close to the ground and to emphasize horizontals rather than verticals. “I found it

  • Marguerite Humeau

    he room was darkened, with ten vaguely anthropomorphic sculptures of various shapes and sizes illuminated by spotlights and scattered throughout—on plinths, on the floor, leaning against a column or wall. The sculptural and material qualities of these works—made of bronze; Portland stone; and pink, black, or brown alabaster—seemed to change with subtle variations in the light and shadows, which made their volumes both corporeal and abstract, and their surfaces fluctuate, almost as if alive.

    Marguerite Humeau’s exhibition “ECSTASIES” was a sequel to her traveling show “Birth Canal,” which debuted

  • Monika Sosnowska

    Three large steel sculptures suspended from the ceiling were the only works in Monika Sosnowska’s recent solo show. Titled Gate 2, Gate 3, and Gate 4 (all works 2014), they formed an ensemble as austere as it was opulent, melding a sense of lightness, even levitation, to leave an almost palpable impression of weight. The title Gate is emphatically prosaic, but given the degree of defamiliarization and deformation, it might equally be considered an attempt at mystification. How these free-hanging steel constructions might represent portals, points of access, or passages was hard to see at first.

  • picks March 30, 2019

    Bernard Piffaretti

    Bernard Piffaretti’s painting run counter to any unity of style while simultaneously pursuing a consistent artistic strategy. This productive contradiction applies not only to his individual paintings or exhibitions but also to his work as a whole, as can be observed in his third solo show at Klemm’s. In 1986, Piffaretti made the decision to divide each of his canvases into halves with a narrow strip of paint. On one side, he develops an abstract composition with rapid strokes, alla prima, often in high-contrast color. Once complete, he executes the same motif, with precision and in a light

  • Dineo Seshee Bopape

    Spellbinding from the moment one first laid eyes on it, the sprawling installation Lerole: Footnotes (the struggle of memory against forgetting), 2018, was an expansive gesture of aesthetic autonomy and a richly orchestrated referential ensemble whose powerful physical presence intimated spiritual dimensions. The piece, which lent its title to this recent exhibition by the South African artist Dineo Seshee Bopape, premiered at the Leopold Museum in Vienna in 2017, but the artist thoroughly reenvisions it each time it is displayed, responding to the specificity of each setting while drawing on

  • Ulla von Brandenburg

    The title of Ulla von Brandenburg’s recent show—eighteen letters in seemingly random order, neither alphabetically arranged nor legible as a unit another way—was also that of the film shown there: C, Ü, I, T, H, E, A, K, O, G, N, B, D, F, R, M, P, L, 2017. While one wondered what this might be an abbreviation for, and how it might relate to the other works in the space, the series of vowels and consonants subliminally leaked into one’s consciousness, as a sung melody that quietly filled the gallery as the soundtrack of the ten-minute-long (looped) 16-mm film. The film was projected onto one of

  • picks January 24, 2019

    “Content is a Glimpse”

    The title of this exhibition refers to those moments of intuitive recognition that can strike when one contemplates painting; as Willem de Kooning said in 1960: “Content is a glimpse of something, an encounter like a flash.” Per de Kooning, curator Jurriaan Benschop is especially interested in the ways figuration can be found in gesture, color, and abstraction, and he notes a similar approach in the five painterly positions here.

    The gray and black, minimalist nuances of David Schutter’s AIC G 219, 2014, and GSMB W 21, 2015, make the two small paintings seem introverted, as if they intend to

  • Natalie Häusler

    Natalie Häusler is a poet as well as a visual artist and typically designs environments in which objects and language organically flow into each other. In this exhibition, titled “Honey,” she created a complex scenario incorporating disparate forms of presentation, linked through open dramaturgical interconnections and peppered with literary, aesthetic, and sociopolitical references. Every attempt to come to grips with the ensemble as a whole led the viewer to further avenues of inquiry and generated ever broader chains of association. 

    The dense polyphony that ensued was thematically bound up

  • Kohei Nawa

    Kohei Nawa’s exhibition “Throne” had an air of exacting elegance: Large-format works from the 2011– series “Direction”—canvases covered with diagonal bands of black on white—shared the gallery with slender sculptures from the “Ether” series, 2014–, made up of austere vertical sculptures structured via a rhythmic sequence of bulging and tapered segments. At first glance, everything suggested an experimentally inflected Minimalism. Other works, however, were at odds with this initial impression, most prominently _Throne (g/pboy), 2017, a hieratic golden sculpture crowned with spikes,

  • Suse Bauer

    Suse Bauer’s work is characterized by apparently contradictory themes and stylistic tendencies. It is rooted in abstraction and characterized by planar arrangements and artless ornament, containing references to Bauhaus modernism and literary quotations while reflecting Bauer’s pronounced penchant for bricolage and the handmade. Her exhibition “Der Abgrund unter mir heißt Zukunft” (The Abyss Beneath Me Is Called Future) included six paintings (oil or oil and oil pastel on paper), a floor sculpture in cast concrete (Untitled, 2018), four large-format black-and-white scans and—as the show’s

  • Johanna Jaeger

    Johanna Jaeger’s pictorial practice unfolds along a variety of trajectories that are always in close touch with a core characteristic of photography: its relation to time. The new works she presented in her recent exhibition “checkerboard sky” translate this program into pictures that fuse complexity with Minimalist precision. Jaeger has devised an open and experimental yet distinctive visual idiom; her motifs are often liquid—drops of colored ink in water—and ephemeral phenomena, such as the process of a form’s gradual dissolution. Jaeger draws attention to modes of transition that

  • Joachim Grommek

    To make his paintings, Joachim Grommek combines trompe l’oeil techniques with abstraction. In his recent exhibition “High End,” Grommek presented new works on canvas alongside three slightly older paintings on chipboard (all Untitled and numbered). Although the new paintings were separated by fundamental formal differences from the earlier works, they were exemplary of his play with the illusionism of the concrete. The compact compositions in small square formats consisted of a large color field, set just a bit off center, in combination with stripes and bands in different hues grouped along

  • Anna Virnich

    What hit you first about these works was their scent. Sweet and subtly intense, it was not so much perfumed as organic. It was also vaguely familiar, even if it was not what you’d expect from a group of abstract paintings. This disconcerting quality is a deliberate component of Anna Virnich’s work. Even before you realize what’s happening, your experience of looking is pervaded by the sense of smell, which combines with the picture’s visual meaning to become part of its elusive materiality.

    Virnich’s work is particularly concerned with the interplay between materiality and perception. Her large