Jens Asthoff

  • picks December 05, 2008

    Nathan Hylden

    For his first solo show in Germany, the Los Angeles–based artist Nathan Hylden presents works that question the inherent structure of abstract painting through an evocation of Minimalist traditions. Hylden investigates the process of painting itself: The images are created through a range of reproductive and serial production methods that link all of the works here through common motifs. For example, Hylden stacked canvases with gold glazing into overlapping groups and then sprayed the exposed portions with neon-yellow paint, thereby introducing two vertical stripes into each composition. He

  • picks November 28, 2007

    Nicole Wermers

    Nicole Wermers’s sculptures and collages engage with contradictions of contemporary life by juxtaposing the formal language of Minimalism with representations of objects from mass culture. This combination often entails a hefty dollop of glamour; stylization, adornment, and ornamentation enter into surprising alliances with a reduced visual grammar. The assertion of this work’s autonomy is likewise overlaid by its practical function. “French Junkies,” 2003, is one example: distributed throughout the exhibition space, this group of carefully styled, waist-high Minimalist sculptures can also be

  • picks July 03, 2007

    Alexander Rischer

    Using black-and-white photography, Alexander Rischer uncovers historical threads that lie beyond the mainstream; his austere images contain histories that bear witness to distant ways of life. This exhibition, which covers several years, presents sacred historical monuments and small-scale, often-provincial architecture. The function and meaning of these constructions—round towers, dovecotes, exterior pulpits, “soul windows,” and misery crosses—have largely been forgotten today; they project themselves into the secular present like spectral, silent witnesses. As such, Rischer’s photographs often

  • picks May 24, 2007

    Stefan Thater

    Despite referencing Color Field painting and Minimalist art, Stefan Thater’s new paintings defy easy categorization. An enigmatic resistance to any all-encompassing system is inherent in the reductionist nature of his compact, square-format works; their sophisticated, accentuated simplicity exudes an air of autonomy that is both restrained and introspective. Though the works appear extremely solid, Thater in fact paints on lightweight foam, normally used for flower arrangements, and processes this material to make it appear more substantial. Beneath his uppermost layer of brushstrokes, still

  • picks May 02, 2007

    Cerith Wyn Evans

    In this exhibition, Cerith Wyn Evans has created a parallel universe, one that is both hermetically sealed and full of Minimalist opulence. Through the sophisticated intertwining of nine light and text installations, Evans has produced a complex interchange between formulas of meaning and formulas of encoding. Light is both the subject and the medium of transmission for Evans. He deploys it in metaphoric and poetic ways, as well as referring to its ability to create mental effects that are not instigated by retinal perception. Likewise, he understands that light is interwoven with darkness, and

  • picks April 03, 2007

    Silvia Bächli

    Though Swiss artist Silvia Bächli uses a broad range of motifs and moves constantly between abstraction and representation, there is something constant in the appearance of all her works. Is this similarity the main characteristic of her oeuvre? At times, the extreme reduction, the brevity, of her glazed gray-black gouache drawings is reminiscent of Asian calligraphy. In this exhibition, the reduction has been intensified; Munro describes these works as offering “magical simplicity.” Bächli’s pictures should not be interpreted only formally; they are précis of the living. The contraction is

  • picks April 02, 2007

    “This Place Is My Place—Begehrte Orte (Desired Spaces)”

    The exhibition “This Place is My Place—Begehrte Orte (Desired Spaces)” is a window onto our world. It contains concise reflections on social and political interdependence at global and local scales, focusing closely on the myriad personal ways individuals experience their immediate environment. Yilmaz Dziewior, director of the Kunstverein, has brought together works that explore “a new phase of capitalism,” a phase “characterized by postmodern lifestyles, post-Fordist relations of production, and methods of sovereignty based on the society of control.” That may sound very theoretical—it has

  • picks March 12, 2007

    Simon Lewis

    In his paintings, drawings, and poetry, Simon Lewis has created a calm oeuvre that meticulously navigates between precise observation and visual imagination, highlighting the vicissitudes of perception. His miniature landscape paintings have been brought together here for his first institutional solo exhibition, and the “Book of Soundings,” a cycle of poetic and hermetic drawings that Lewis worked on for five years, is being presented in its entirety for the first time. Furthermore, thirty-four textual images—brief descriptions of nature and natural phenomena, like air, dust, maple leaves, mist,

  • picks February 20, 2007

    Michael Pfisterer

    Michael Pfisterer’s photographs display a fascination with structure, investigating photography’s capacity to serve as a reproductive medium. His subjects extend from the micro to the macro dimension—molecules, scientific experiments, distant galaxies—and have been divested of any claim to reality: They are restrained, reduced images, verging on the symbolic. Here, Pfisterer exhibits four new large-format photographs from the series “Erster Tag (Arbeitssituation)” (First Day [Labor Situation]), 2006–2007, which depict a table on which various piles of paper have been arranged. Most sheets are

  • picks February 15, 2007

    Ulla von Brandenburg

    By combining three works, Ulla von Brandenburg has constructed a multilayered theatrical scenario that shrouds the exhibition space in highly symbolic artificiality. These pieces (all dated 2007) are a 16-mm film titled Schlüssel (Key); Zelt (Tent), a cloth sculpture; and a found object: the board from the game La Tacticien (The Tactician). In other rooms in the gallery, von Brandenburg exhibits black-and-white ink drawings, which reproduce individual images from Schlüssel as if in silhouette. The two-minute film, shot in black-and-white, uses a slow-panning camera to portray a group of people

  • picks February 03, 2007

    Anselm Reyle

    Anselm Reyle recapitulates modern abstraction, from gestural painting to Op art, from neon sculptures to works à la Henry Moore. His are not direct copies but rather echoes of previous artistic positions, from Götz to Freundlich, from Informel art to Color Field painting. He takes particular interest in those forms often interpreted as “modern-art clichés.” However, this attention to old saws also offers new ways of seeing: “I am interested in anything that is of high enough quality to become a cliché,” he has said. “Then I try to reach the core of the matter, that is, to take hold of the cliché

  • picks January 17, 2007

    Inga Svala Thórsdóttir

    Borg, an ever-growing work by Inga Svala Thórsdóttir, is aimed at the porous border between art and life. It began a few years ago as a concrete utopia: Thórsdóttir drew up a plan for the establishment of a cosmopolitan city in Iceland’s vast and empty middle west. Borg means “city” in Icelandic, and Thórsdóttir chose historic terrain for the project: twenty-one degrees west by sixty-four degrees north, where the country’s first settler, the legendary Skallagrimur Kveldulfsson, set up the court—also called Borg—that served as a model for Thórsdóttir’s project. In this exhibition, she presents

  • picks January 11, 2007

    Stefan Kern

    Stefan Kern’s sculptures generally adhere to a certain pattern: reduced modular forms painted a brilliant, glossy white. Formally, their Minimalist simplicity epitomizes the “White Cube” art object, though Kern also imbues them with a surprising utility. The sculptures feature a playful, practical functionality that offers a quiet counterpoint to their more purely aesthetic qualities. Here, abstract art is put to use; Kern’s works can be used as tables or other kinds of furniture. For example, the artist has previously constructed a Minimalist tree house that you can climb into, as well as

  • picks October 25, 2006

    Jean-Luc Moulène

    This small survey of works by the artist Jean-Luc Moulène, who lives in Paris, includes photographs from various series as well as objects and videos. The breadth of Moulène’s work is dazzling: His photography is focused less on specific motifs than on an all-encompassing attitude, characterized by directness, a coolly objective “poetry.” Certain themes, though, come together amid the medley of images, from landscape photographs to portraits, from urban snapshots to carefully composed still lifes of household items and fruit. All are investigations of how the photographic gaze is always intertwined

  • picks October 19, 2006

    Stefan Müller

    In these new paintings, notoriously nonchalant Stefan Müller has managed to be even more distant and subtle, testing, in different ways, the limits of what we define as painting. And though he makes consistent use of fabric drawn tautly over a stretcher, to a certain extent the medium is only a point of departure for him: The production of each picture reinterprets painterly conventions in a new way. In general, Müller creates nonrepresentational, material-specific pictorial spaces in which he reduces the traditional application of paint to the bare minimum and blithely quashes attempts at

  • picks August 08, 2006

    Stanley Brouwn

    Stanley Brouwn is a master of the minimal: His exhibitions often seem like empty rooms; didactic texts are likewise reduced to the bare minimum, often just numbers or measurements. He formalizes the distances of space and time by counting his own steps, creating a new form of measurement that is linked to international standards. Brouwn has also made other people an essential element of his practice. In this way, brouwn, an ongoing series, he asks passersby to direct him to a certain point in the city, sometimes to completely fictitious destinations like “Brouwnstraße.” Brouwn’s exhibitions are

  • picks June 22, 2006

    Yael Bartana

    Israeli artist Yael Bartana’s films are observant and personal, and combine a detached documentary style with a barely perceptible subjective atmosphere. Bartana, who lives in Tel Aviv and Amsterdam, looks at the familiar with a gaze sharpened by distance; she is an involved outsider who shows the people of her homeland during typical celebrations and rituals. “Ceremonies organized by the state and military celebrations define this tradition and shape national identity,” she has said. “I am interested in the dynamic of a state that dictates a certain viewpoint and of the individuals that accept

  • picks May 24, 2006

    Jens Wolf

    Jens Wolf plays with the language of reductive, geometric abstraction: The forms are familiar, but their realization is not. The references are clear—allusions abound to hard-edge painting, systemic painting, and constructivism—and the paintings are antisubjective, avoid an easily identified “signature,” and demonstrate the concept of “flatness” popularized by Clement Greenberg, all while evoking Kenneth Noland and Frank Stella, or Max Bill and František Kupka. However, Wolf’s iterations chart a different path, using this formal vocabulary as an aesthetically coded point of departure

  • picks May 15, 2006

    Miwa Ogasawara

    Miwa Ogasawara’s pale paintings appear light, almost casual, yet they provide firm ground for deep concentration and reflection. In some of her works, the Kyoto-born artist achieves a refreshing effect: painting that delivers abundance through reduction. The artist typically works with everyday, unspectacular motifs—people walking in the park, children playing, scenes in the snow, or even an empty landscape. However, she reshapes these casual themes into a dreamlike, timeless present. In Im Freien (Al Fresco), 2006, people stand under trees; the leaves predominate, dissolving into a blurred,

  • picks May 03, 2006

    Erik Bulatov

    A cycle of twelve pictures entitled Bot/There, 1999–2005, forms the core of Erik Bulatov’s exhibition “Freiheit ist Freiheit” (Freedom Is Freedom). In this astonishingly varied series, Constructivist word pictures hang next to realistic depictions of landscapes and cities, with Bulatov repeatedly employing the motif of a bright blue sky filled with clouds. Text and landscape are often woven together, though sometimes Bulatov chooses to emphasize the two-dimensional nature of the surface. The artist quotes Blok and Nekrasov, translating them into his own concrete poetry, which blends two great