Jens Asthoff

  • picks May 18, 2011

    Philip Gaißer

    Chiuso” (Closed)—the title of Philip Gaißer’s solo exhibition at the Palais für Aktuelle Kunst—alludes to the fact that Gaißer has closed all apertures, so to speak, and plunged the show into twilight. Indeed, it references the process of analog photography itself, which depends on a shutter closing in order to expose film to a particular amount of light. In the staging of his photographs, Gaißer takes twilight as his point of departure and develops a nuanced dramaturgy of illumination: The images are tempered by spotlights, light tables, isolated points of light, and the diffuse glow of

  • picks April 20, 2011

    Peter Lynen

    “Three Fridays,” Peter Lynen’s first solo exhibition at this gallery, furthers his unique exploration of the boundary and transition between image and sculpture. Lynen practices a kind of neo-Dada wherein the parameters of natural science, psychology, and aesthetics are continually tested. EXHIBITION AS APPARATUS is a telling phrase written on a piece of paper that is displayed on the windowsill as part of the installation, indicating that we can usefully read the show in terms of scientific experiments. Works such as the sculpture Weltmodell (World Model), 2009, and the photograph Übersichtliche

  • Guðný Guðmundsdóttir and Jochen Lempert

    Galerie Dorothea Schlueter is a newcomer on the Hamburg scene; this exhibition by Guðný Guðmundsdóttir and Jochen Lempert was only its third. The gallerist’s name is a pseudonym invented by Nora Sdun, Sebastian Reuss, and Goor Zankl, who make up the triumvirate running the space. This imaginary figurehead, with a name that in German intentionally sounds a bit square, is a statement in its own right, situating the gallery somewhere between the charm of fiction making and the elegance of ironic modesty.

    In this exhibition, Dorothea Schlueter experimented with presentation as well: To accompany

  • Frank Nitsche

    A solo with a sidekick: Frank Nitsche, a painter known for his complex, synthetic-abstract manipulations of pictorial space, invited Swiss video artist Yves Netzhammer to augment his first institutional show in Berlin with a couple of bonus works—thus “Frank Nitsche COCKTAILHYBRIDCONCEPT—Feat. Yves Netzhammer,” which filled both floors of Haus am Waldsee. Nitsche focused his conceptually rigorous presentation on a new group of works from 2010, juxtaposing them with selected pieces from the last ten years to create calculated constellations. This above all made the exhibition worth

  • picks December 11, 2010

    “Photography - Ideology of Representation”

    Melike Bilir opened her gallery in Hamburg in 2010, after having curated numerous exhibitions with emerging artists in her roving space Walk of Fame since 2007. Today, Bilir is one of the most important rising dealers in Hamburg, and the show “Fotografie—Ideologie der Abbildlichkeit” (Photography—Ideology of Representation), organized with Oliver Ross, testifies to her excellent curatorial skills as well. The exhibition seeks, according to the press release, to contradict “the common assumption that photography, as a technical recording of images, is an aesthetic repetition of ‘reality.’ ” One

  • Michael Hakimi

    The exhibition pavilion of the Overbeck-Gesellschaft is right in the heart of Lübeck but nonetheless has an air of peaceful isolation about it. You access it indirectly, via the classical Behnhaus, an elegant residence that has been converted into a museum. From there a wide hallway leads past paintings by the likes of Johann Friedrich Overbeck and Caspar David Friedrich to a small park dotted with sculptures containing an unadorned pavilion dating from 1930. So the visitor’s approach to Michael Hakimi’s show was necessarily circuitous, involving several stages and epochs and aesthetic presentations.

  • picks November 30, 2010

    Jessica Stockholder

    The Reina Sofía’s light-flooded Palacio de Cristal, with its central dome and three side wings, couldn’t be further from the typical experience of viewing art in a white cube gallery. The architecture unfolds as an expansive space, imparting the feeling to visitors that they are at once inside and outside. Jessica Stockholder’s installation Peer Out to See, 2010, transforms this gallery into what might be called a traversable painting––even if there are several dominant sculptural aspects. Foremost among these is the slim sculpture reaching up to the glass ceiling. The work is made up of plastic

  • Stefan Panhans and Andrea Winkler

    Even before looking closely at individual works and their details, visitors to Stefan Panhans and Andrea Winkler’s show “Du kannst die Polizei belügen, aber nicht mich” (You Can Lie to the Police But Not to Me) were conscious of a calculated mixture of improvised effortlessness and aesthetically rigorous stylization. The show appeared meticulously composed when viewed from any point in the room; walking around constantly led one to new connections and “spatial pictures.” As formally different as the two artists’ work might be—Panhans makes photographs and videos, while Winkler develops minimalist

  • Annette Kisling

    Annette Kisling trains her photographic gaze on unspectacular, quotidian surroundings. Often she treats architectural subjects—row houses, housing developments, or allotment gardens—occasionally also taking up other, less clearly definable traces of civilization, such as traffic signs, fences, or furniture, any of which the camera may inspect in close-up, or at a distance as empty signifiers in the landscape. She has also made some nature studies—pictures of overgrown parks or grassy dunes—but her cityscapes in particular bear such a distinct mark of human presence that one often has to look at

  • Thomas Helbig

    This show of new work by Thomas Helbig was staged in two locations: Galerie Guido W. Baudach’s extensive exhibition hall in the Wedding district, and its recently opened cabinet-like showroom in Charlottenburg. Precisely placed in self-contained arrangements, the paintings, drawings, and reliefs (and one sculpture, in the new venue) were presented as individual pieces, but Helbig was clearly interested in creating a specific atmosphere for each location.

    In Wedding, on both sides of a specially built freestanding wall in the middle of the gallery, Helbig hung painstakingly configured sequences

  • Pernille Koldbech Fich

    Danish artist Pernille Koldbech Fich continues to refine her work in the genre of photographic portraiture. She has long situated her subjects within specific surroundings, with both subject and context characterizing each other reciprocally. For the early series “Søstre” (Sisters), 2002–2003, she photographed diakonisser, or Danish ordained nurses, in their own living quarters, letting the rooms that they themselves designed serve as an expressive stage. Since then she has been emptying out her studio and stylizing her backdrops, emphasizing the pictorial space in itself as an atmospheric medium

  • picks July 09, 2010

    Wolfgang Breuer

    Wolfgang Breuer’s show “Aerobics” greets visitors with an airy emptiness. Compared with the main exhibition space, the first room seems a mere thoroughfare until one discovers a Minimalist intervention as laconic as it is poetic. The piece initially appears to be no more than a lightbulb hung close to the ceiling, barely lambent in the daylight. The commonplace, here, serves as bait, yielding the unexpected: The bulb is in fact rotating—perceptible only via its circling filaments. The object’s Dadaist absurdity derives not only from the fact that it would be entirely functional if motionless,

  • picks May 01, 2010

    Suse Bauer

    Suse Bauer evolves an abstraction of ornate constructivism. This may seem a contradiction, given that constructivist approaches pursue a formal logic of the image, one that does not dwell on the decorative. With her work, however, Bauer moves directly into this contradiction. In often small, though sometimes very large, formats, she combines color fields, lines, and abstract figures in two-dimensional compositions that are as archaic as they are artificial. One might think of modern as well as abstract, utopian public art as it once flourished in East Germany (where the artist lived as a child).

  • Suzanne M. Winterling

    IN “THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS”—Susanne M. Winterling’s exhibition at the Badischer Kunstverein in Karlsruhe, Germany—the artist gamely takes up Lewis Carroll’s tale of the same name. The show announces itself by presenting its title on a large-format movie-house marquee (Untitled [Through the Looking Glass I], 2010). Yet this work hangs above the exit, so that viewers do not discover this gigantic lighted board until they are about to leave. Conversely, Winterling stages the actual entrance to the show as a liminal space. She has constructed a wooden copy of the silhouette of the museum’s baroque

  • Pedro Cabrita Reis

    “One After Another, a Few Silent Steps,” curated by Sabrina van der Ley, was the first major retrospective of the work of Pedro Cabrita Reis in Germany. It elicited two ostensibly contradictory impressions: on one hand, an unyielding minimalism with a strong emphasis on material, and on the other, a sense of quiet, poetic allusiveness. It’s fascinating that in each of the works included, these two elements are simultaneously present and interlinked through Cabrita Reis’s artistic vocabulary. This dualism was underlined in Hamburg by the arrangement of the works, which, disregarding chronology,

  • Nina Kluth

    Casual swipes of thickly applied paint, bright splotches, and spreading patches of color that occasionally allow a glimpse of bare canvas: Nina Kluth develops her paintings with a tempestuousness and roughness that is, in the end, carefully calibrated. Her virtuoso alla prima paintings often look nearly abstract on first glance, but invariably also resolve into naturalism. Although Kluth’s work is explicitly anchored in the depiction of landscape, this representational content is balanced by the emphasis she places on the role of color, the materiality of the paint, and her rich, surprising

  • picks February 26, 2010

    Beate Gütschow

    “I.” That’s the title of a new body of work by Beate Gütschow; it stands for the word interior. She produces her photographs exclusively in series. The first was “LS” (as in landscape), 1999–2003, for which she assembled sweeping landscape motifs into digital collages that recall the compositions of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century paintings. In the following series, “S” (for Stadt, or city in German), 2004–2009, she collaged International Style architecture in cool black-and-white, forming fictional cityscapes that come across as sad contemporary ruins. Gütschow is adept at revealing the

  • Tomma Abts

    It’s not often that we get to see new work by Tomma Abts. The artist’s labor-intensive process only allows her to produce about ten paintings a year, so it is with a certain excitement that one waits to see whether she has succeeded in further refining her concentrated, steadily developing oeuvre.

    This show was sparse, consisting of five paintings and eight drawings, with each medium presented separately on a different floor. The paintings, displayed downstairs, were hung in a row and generously spaced on one long wall. In this simple hang, Abts introduced delicate but crucial nuances characteristic

  • Stephen G. Rhodes

    With his exhibition “Dar Allers War Ne’er Eny Bear Bear” (There Was Always Never Any Bear Bear), Stephen G. Rhodes imported popular myths from the United States to Germany. The show had two central points of reference: Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining (1980), based on the novel by Stephen King, and the Disney adaptation of Uncle Remus by Joel Chandler Harris, which opened in 1946 as Song of the South, a film musical containing both live-action and animated sequences. Rhodes juxtaposed quotes from both films and carefully staged references in a wild and unwieldy multimedia installation that sprawled

  • picks January 18, 2010

    Wolfgang Plöger

    In “to the point,” Wolfgang Plöger renders the period—that is, the punctuation mark—as the building block of a two-part installation that is both minimal and rich in associations. The work, which shares its title with the exhibition, explores the graphically plain symbol that syntactically functions as a purely regulative element. Plöger’s oversize photocopies of periods are, in some instances, transferred onto animated Super 8 films. Others are enlarged on paper, so that the show’s subject, typeset in Arial, becomes a black square. These ink-jet printouts magnify the reproduced form’s diffuse