Jens Asthoff

  • 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

  • picks June 01, 2009

    Ellen Gronemeyer

    On entering Ellen Gronemeyer’s exhibition, visitors are greeted by the head of a character with a broad grin: It Was Not Me, 2008–2009, serves as an appropriate point of departure for the range of fictional portraits that, in different ways, evoke the grotesque and caricature. This selection of recent pieces is the culmination of all Gronemeyer’s previous work in that its appeal lies in its aesthetically recalcitrant nature. The cast of this whimsical world of images consists of ecstatic visages (Crossing the Line, 2009), cat-women (It Took the Night to Believe It, 2007–2008), kids wearing

  • Alexander Wolff

    This show, “Ausstellung für leidenschaftlich an sich selbst Interessierte” (Exhibition for the Passionately Self-Involved), was designed to be modified. Before the opening, Alexander Wolff arranged everything himself, but in the days that followed he left it up to the gallery staff to exchange some of the pictures at weekly intervals as they saw fit. Of course, this demonstrative relinquishing of the show’s installation was actually just a cunningly displaced insistence on design, as Wolff in fact linked together the individual works to form a cohesive yet rearrangeable installation: Space,

  • picks May 29, 2009

    Linda McCue

    For her first solo exhibition at Elly Brose-Eiermann’s Berlin location, Linda McCue offers a selection of her most recent paintings and watercolors. Her extremely precise pictorial language has an entirely personal and surreal character, although she often treats painting and drawing differently. While her paintings depict arrangements of objects, her drawings, which are more tender in tone, picture representations of the human figure––often self-portraits of the artist engaged in a stylized interaction with a quiet world of things, as in Waiting I–VII, 2009. In a refined and subtle manner,

  • picks May 23, 2009

    André Butzer

    As opulent as usual, André Butzer’s new paintings are currently on exhibit at two locations in Berlin: Guido W. Baudach is showing six riotously colorful paintings and, as if to mark a contrast, Max Hetzler’s Zimmerstrasse gallery offers five grayish large-format works.

    By Butzer’s standards, the paintings at Hetzler, with their relaxed orthogonal lines and fields, are almost reserved. For several years, Butzer has been making nonfigurative works that emphasize pictorial forms and entail a colorful materiality. These works have grown out of his recognizable brand of figuration, which is both

  • picks May 08, 2009

    Christopher Wool

    Around thirty large-format works—as well as the series of photographs titled “East Broadway Breakdown,” 1995—provide a representative overview of Christopher Wool’s work and its evolution over time. For the most part, though, this exhibition––in honor of Wool’s winning of this year’s Wolfgang Hahn Prize––concentrates on paintings and silk-screen prints made after 2006. None of the artist’s renowned word paintings are included, although the museum’s collection has two. Rather, the works on view evince his development of nongestural, ornamental, and allover effects, as well as his radical

  • picks May 04, 2009

    Tal R

    Tal R’s first comprehensive museum exhibition in Germany arrives late for such a productive and independent artist, one whose work has exerted an immense influence on a younger generation. This well-deserved exhibition, which takes up all three floors of the institution, showcases a wide array of his expressive forms.

    On the ground floor, several diverse individual works are gathered in a dense installation. Although nothing is installed on the wall, abstract paintings and pictures made with fabric, as well as small sculptures and drawings, are presented in arrangements through which the viewer

  • “André Butzer: Paintings 1999–2009”

    Since the late 1990s, German painter André Butzer has been tinkering away in his thick, expressionistic impasto to create an alternate universe populated by such curious figures as the death-faced Wanderers and ungainly augurs of good fortune, the Friedens-Siemense (named after the multinational corporation).

    Since the late 1990s, German painter André Butzer has been tinkering away in his thick, expressionistic impasto to create an alternate universe populated by such curious figures as the death-faced Wanderers and ungainly augurs of good fortune, the Friedens-Siemense (named after the multinational corporation). Butzer, with disarming irony, describes his work as “science fiction expressionism”—locating the orbits of Asger Jorn and Albert Oehlen within waving distance. The Kunsthalle Nürnberg now opens its galleries to this radical (anti-)vision of the world with a concentrated

  • Miwa Ogasawara

    Miwa Ogasawara’s work as a painter has developed above all within familiar genres such as portraiture, interiors, and landscape. But in her work, these traditional forms give rise to something autonomous and new. Ogasawara’s paintings look easy, almost offhand, yet they are densely atmospheric. Her pictures cultivate a quiet, at times severe clarity that can seem ominous and suggests emotional depth, as when the artist foregrounds moments of intimacy or loneliness. Such valences of expression are a crucial factor in her work—never does her expressiveness become explicit or illustrative. Ogasawara

  • picks March 13, 2009

    Nina Kluth

    Nina Kluth’s paintings entail a dappled yet fluid fragmentation of pictorial space. She joins gestural abstraction with the imagination of landscape and fascinatingly binds the two together so that neither the abstraction nor the object’s representation can be distinguished. The immense variety of abstract dabs, sprinkles, and strokes of paint in her works suggests vegetation. Kluth organizes her brushstrokes such that the image appears to come alive as soon as it is viewed. This tension produces an effect that could never be achieved by realist means. The viewer may recognize overgrown paths

  • picks February 27, 2009

    Inga Svala Thórsdóttir and Maria Tobiassen

    This two-person show includes the debut of Inga Svala Thórsdóttir’s The Thing’s Right(s)—Thirty Watercolors, 2008, a work that alters the text of each of the thirty articles of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights so that they apply instead to objects, and Maria Tobiassen’s The Connector Machine, 2009, an installation that revolves around fantasies of living beings turning into things and vice versa. Both artists’ work entails an exchange between the sphere of the living and the sphere of the object. Nonetheless, each artist is so rooted in a formal language that their independence is

  • picks February 05, 2009

    Claus Becker

    Claus Becker’s art can be seen as an intimate rapprochement with beauty. He moves on an elevated plane of aesthetic refinement, from which he employs different media and motifs. In addition to his small and suggestive figurative drawings, he also makes simple objects and reliefs, including abstract and pictorial arrangements, as well as loosely hanging and sewn fabrics to which he often adds fine appliqués. As in Becker’s other exhibitions, this show combines these different ways of artmaking and subtly engages the space. Typically, artists exhibit their work in the more private spaces of this

  • picks January 09, 2009

    Friederike Clever

    Friederike Clever pursues a kind of textural realism in her new large-format paintings, which she compares to Gobelins tapestries. This exhibition also includes several smaller canvases that interweave brushstrokes and the materiality of the support in different ways. Clever seems more interested in the translation processes that lead to a given image and are visible in the final product than she is in formal or visual similarities. At first glance, two horizontal pictures, both Untitled (all works 2008), appear completely abstract: Clever has unevenly rubbed gold acrylic paint onto raw,