Jens Asthoff

  • 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

  • picks December 02, 2009

    “Screening Real”

    As part of the art festival Steirischer Herbst, “Screening Real” convincingly explores the event’s theme this year: definitions of “the real” as put forth by various media. The exhibition juxtaposes Sharon Lockhart’s Double Tide, 2009, and Exit, 2008, with Andy Warhol’s 16-mm films Kiss, 1963, Eat, 1964, and Blow Job, 1964, and several of his “Screen Test” pieces, as well as Bruce Conner’s A Movie, 1958, and Report, 1963–67. The curators have designed the exhibition as a walk-through multifocal movie theater. Seldom exhibited in Europe, the original material, as displayed in the space, is

  • Armin Boehm

    Armin Boehm’s painting paradoxically concerns itself with ways of rendering invisibility visible. At the same time, his work constantly thematizes light. In the large-format nocturnal views of high-rise facades in the series “Untitled (Riot),” 2007–, for instance, apartment lights and what might be street lamps glow in the darkness as faint notes of color. These pictures are based on motifs from the Parisian banlieues, generalized as nonplaces and atmospherically heightened by being repeatedly painted over in glazelike layers. The isolated light sources floating above the image seem only to lend

  • picks October 15, 2009

    Thea Djordjadze

    Thea Djordjadze’s Explain Away, ე.ი., 2009, the largest work in this solo exhibition, is austerely theatrical. It connects a few sparse elements of sculpture, painting, and architecture to form a rudimentary space that is governed by a concentrated pictorial logic. The stagelike setting articulates a formal language that is unique to Djordjadze but is connected to modernism through dense, formally reduced sculptural arrangements.

    Djordjadze uses three dividing walls that reach up to the ceiling to construct a space within the work; the structure encompasses the installation like a transparent

  • picks October 13, 2009

    Sonja Vordermaier

    The sculpture Schatten 28 (Shadow 28), 2009, which Sonja Vordermaier has installed for “Dämmerzunder” (Twilight-Cinder), her first solo show in the United States, is reminiscent of an enormous, dark crystal. This abstract form, seemingly a mineral, is crossed by layered fissures. Some areas have expansive surfaces, while others are composed of diminutive, staggered edges. The work erupts from the wall near the floor; its offshoots reach far into the gallery space and continue on the other side of the wall. On entering the gallery, viewers are brought face-to-face with its long, pointed extensions.

  • picks October 05, 2009

    Wawrzyniec Tokarski

    Descriptions of Wawrzyniec Tokarski’s paintings consistently refer to his use of logos and slogans taken from the world of goods and consumerism. While such motifs are featured in the works in this exhibition, the artist now appears more obviously concerned with irony. The surfaces of some of the paintings have been built up in a rapid and fluid manner; like his other works, these pieces aim for a blend of alienation and recognition. Familiar brands and messages with typography rich in connotations are depicted and interspersed with elements that function schematically, such as a fragment of a

  • Cordula Ditz

    Cordula Ditz’s recent exhibition included paintings, videos, collages, and site-specific sculpture. The first thing to strike the visitor’s eye was the large-format paintings, all the same size (approximately eight by six feet) and hung on black walls. They look as if Ditz were “covering” various positions within the canon of modernist abstraction while simultaneously transforming them. The casualness of her approach gives these works a power all their own, along with a sense of parodic commentary that alternates between the subliminal and the explicit. Five of these works are gestural abstractions,

  • picks September 04, 2009

    Annette Kelm

    By installing older pieces amid new works in her exhibitions, Annette Kelm creates a subtle and precise relationship that augments the sophisticated ambivalence of her photographs. In this solo show, Kelm’s first in Austria, her sober and clear approach is evident in the way she structures her meticulously calculated pieces. One work, Archeology and Photography, 2008, is a good example of this method. Here Kelm captures two antiquarian books on photography theory (one gives the piece its title) and two large, contorted white zucchini. The zucchini are displayed in front of the books and on a

  • Richard Artschwager

    Since the 1960s, Richard Artschwager has been reconstructing objects associated with utility and domestic life—furniture, pictures, and other household items—but with deformations verging on the grotesque. Even purely semantic abstractions like punctuation marks are inserted into the elastic space of his art. At the same time, he tells us, this process is meant to “celebrate” the everyday object in its nonfunctionality. Artschwager worked as a cabinetmaker with his own workshop in the ’50s before committing to art almost a decade later—with work clearly influenced by his professional experience

  • Carsten Fock

    In two simultaneous shows mounted in Hamburg and Berlin, Carsten Fock presented his latest work in the form of all-over installations that group drawings, paintings, and wall treatments into coherent ensembles. The shows shared concerns but did not merely represent formal variations on a theme. It’s better to think of them as two separate, self-contained pictures—and this is precisely what characterizes Fock’s artistic perspective: having space come into its own as a picture and vice versa. “Earlier, my individual wall paintings functioned autonomously,” Fock has said. “Now, for the first time,

  • picks July 16, 2009

    Michael Conrads

    Michael Conrads creates ornamental surfaces in his paintings that are layered on abstract pictorial spaces and fractured patterns. Previously, triangles and stacked rhombuses with slightly irregular rhythms were among the structural motifs in his work. Though the pieces in this exhibition are clearly related to those pictorial practices, Conrads appears more interested in formal developments. Here, he plays surface composition against painterly, illusionistic space, negotiating these elements through an appealing amount of contradiction. By keeping a few streaky colored strips in one painting

  • picks June 17, 2009

    Inga Kählke

    Inga Kählke, who studied with Werner Büttner and Norbert Schwontkowski at the Hochschule für bildende Kunst in Hamburg as recently as this year, is having her first solo exhibition in Amsterdam. Her paintings consistently portray contradictory elements that are subject to the most diverse (as well as novel) methods of constructive deformation and disintegration. The content of her works is governed by a broadly conceived logic: As the viewer discerns a landscape or a group of figures, one quickly becomes lost in the interplay of independent, intentionally imbalanced parts of the painting, which