Jens Asthoff

  • 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

  • picks April 24, 2006

    Christian Hahn

    Though Christian Hahn’s paintings may be figurative, he manages to pack the objects, color, and space of his works down to an almost surreal density. Everything flows into everything else, occasionally giving the impression of static order, though often elements seem to hover, as if hurled from a dream. Dimensions and perspective vary wildly, and realistic and ornamental details are woven together, all of which is rendered even odder by Hahn’s use of pale candy colors. The paintings in this exhibition, titled “Genetic,” are populated by a heterogeneous group of characters: construction workers

  • picks March 03, 2006

    Ana Torfs

    Belgian artist Ana Torfs links stylized photography, slide projections, and installations to obliquely reference her experience as a filmmaker, and it is through this integration of media, as well as her roping together of visual and literary narrative forms, that she achieves an individual style. Her current exhibition consists of three large slide installations and a group of photographic works, one of which, Du mentir-faux, 2000, is a sequential projection of sixty-seven photographs and sixty-one texts. Referencing the trials of Joan of Arc, the pictures show striking black-and-white portraits

  • picks February 27, 2006

    Jules de Balincourt

    While a recent move to Germany has inspired some notable shifts in content, the paintings in “Accidental Tourism and the Art of Forgetting,” Jules de Balincourt’s first European solo show, retain the artist’s strident use of color and characteristically refined naïveté. Distancing himself from the American political and historical themes that marked his earlier work, Balincourt introduces outlandish scenarios, showing locations from Berlin and other places that might have been discovered by an “accidental tourist” traveling around Europe. But this is not documentary painting; rather the work

  • picks February 22, 2006

    John Armleder

    Benita and Immanuel Grosser successfully bring together seemingly autonomous spheres at Y8, a yoga center and exhibition space. But there is no suggestion of New Age kitsch at the venue; both yoga teachers are also artists who studied with Kosuth and exhibit internationally. Katharina Grosse, Angela Bulloch, and Rita McBride have all exhibited here, and now John Armleder has turned the space completely upside down. Armleder, a transformer of the trivial since the 1980s, combines everyday objects and Minimalism, filling both with aesthetic glamour in the creation of hybrid works that drift between

  • picks February 13, 2006

    Wawrzyniec Tokarski

    Wawrzyniec Tokarski makes paintings that use typographic trademarks to investigate the pictorial symbols that frame everyday reality. The artist casually injects his pictures with logos, phrases, and emblems, bestowing upon them a subversive subtext, which in the past have taken the form of loose anagrams: “Sprite” becomes “Spirit,” for example, or a denim-blue “Evil” resembles the “Levi’s” logo (Evil, 2003); with practiced nonchalance, he avoids the slickness typically associated with advertising. His new paintings, however, are rarely based on typography alone; instead Tokarski paints large,