Jens Asthoff

  • 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,

  • picks February 05, 2006

    Alexander Raymond

    There are real discoveries to be made in this gallery’s “1st View” series, and the current solo exhibition of painter Alexander Raymond is no exception. Raymond is developing a personal, poetic realism all his own, sometimes reductive and sometimes escalating into the surreal. Figures appear in theatrical scenes, dramatized by the ingenious use of directed light. Often the graded superimpositions of the pictorial space allow motifs to flow, dreamlike, into each other. Other paintings show cityscapes devoid of human life, or the great expanse of nature. In Bucht (Bay) and Le Castel (both 2003),

  • picks January 24, 2006

    Ralf Weißleder

    Ralf Weißleder, a photographer known for leisurely strolls through archives of public images, transforms the media aura of celebrity in his own sweet way. In the past, he has transposed images of Charlotte Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin into life-size formats; now he gives us the chance to idolize a youthful Elvis Presley—on his surfboard, sporting a Calvin Klein look that predates Calvin Klein—on a one-to-one scale. Affixed directly to the wall, the black-and-white, low-resolution image looks something like a silhouette; the photograph is clearly a newspaper print, enlarged umpteen times.

  • picks December 17, 2005

    Beate Gütschow

    Beate Gütschow assembles realistic pictures by digitally manipulating photographs. She first gained recognition with laconic photographs recreating idyllic landscapes; for the last year, she has worked with architectural subjects. This sampling technique is not immediately obvious in her pictures; instead one is presented with locations at once believable and oddly unreal: These are places that belong to no place. In their seamlessness, the photographs are semantically closed; they are worlds shorn off from reality. To create them, Gütschow first searches through photographic archives and books

  • picks December 15, 2005

    Martin Walde

    Martin Walde has made creative use of the opportunities provided by a comprehensive retrospective, rethinking and reconstructing works that were previously considered finished. His art—photographs, sculptures, installations, and videos—is never static, but instead functions as a kind of transformer. Walde's pieces are, in a sense, containers to be filled in by the viewer; only at the moment of reception do they take on their real form. “I am interested in the possibility of leaving the evolution of an object open,” he says. Because of this, they are never merely “on display,” but have

  • picks December 07, 2005

    Olaf Holzapfel

    Olaf Holzapfel makes paintings, sculptures, and computer-generated sketches that offer non-mimetic representations of space. His paintings, while abstract on a certain level, nonetheless offer an illusion of three-dimensional reality. This tension between two and three dimensions—Holzapfel frequently offsets simple spatial schemes, his pictorial anchors, with bands of abstract color—is similar to how urban spaces, with their profusion of screens and the dilations and contractions of time, are experienced today. Holzapfel’s abstract language aims for discontinuity and encourages non-linear

  • picks November 23, 2005

    Stefan Müller

    Stefan Müller’s sparse abstract painting emphasizes materiality and exhibits traces of the production process, and quite often his somewhat rough handling of his “poor” materials results in a demure but intense visual poetry. Frequently, there are just a few painterly marks (made with anything from pale acrylics, felt-tip pens, and transparent glosses to beer, blood, and dust) on an un-primed background (sometimes canvas, but also raw cotton, coarse jute fiber, and bedsheets). Yet Müller is not concerned with the naughtiness of “bad painting.” Instead, he is interested in making specific choices

  • picks November 15, 2005

    Frank Nitsche

    Frank Nitsche's Constructivist-inspired abstract paintings usually measure around ten feet square. For his third solo exhibition at this gallery, however, all the paintings are small: the largest is only twenty by twelve inches. In his large-scale work, the two-dimensional layering—which alternates generously stretched and narrowly interlocked spatial areas—is complex, and “reading” each painting requires a fair amount of patience. It is fascinating to see how he is able to elicit dynamism from smaller canvases; these pieces are compressed, but they are no less complex. Nitsche hones

  • picks November 11, 2005

    Ellen Gronemeyer

    Ellen Gronemeyer's images are usually small and somber, yet full of crystalline colors. Her “paste-like” paintings appear strangely compressed: stories seem jammed together and moods waft in and out, with nothing becoming more than a suggestion. A sallow radiance, a kind of cold fire, glows in these nighttime landscapes. One can see an eternal (and at times mythical) nature occasionally populated by human forms. Often these figures are faceless—not individuals, but placeholders for the imaginary. Though they grow out of the colored space around them, they seem curiously isolated; in Der

  • picks November 03, 2005

    Wade Guyton

    Using sculpture and painting to re-contextualize (mostly twentieth-century) expressions of form, Wade Guyton’s new work, presented here in his first solo exhibition in Europe, often focuses on artistic hybrids. Guyton’s images are not actually “painted”: instead, he uses multiple printing procedures to transfer computer-generated designs onto canvas, and lately he has been printing onto primed material that is subsequently stretched across a frame. The images use just a small number of elements (squares, stripes, circles, and U-shaped marks), which Guyton juxtaposes with loosely structured image

  • picks October 28, 2005

    Kailiang Yang

    This solo exhibition of Kailiang Yang's paintings revolves around realism, presenting the young Chinese artist’s remarkably mature interiors and landscapes. In the series “Stühle” (Chairs), for instance, Yang has portrayed various types of seats, from the classic Eames armchair to a banal kitchen stool, so effortlessly and realistically that one is tricked into thinking they are actually before our eyes. Yang evidences the physiognomy of each object in painstakingly constructed images. However, photorealism is not the raison d'être here. He brings his talent to bear on an array of pictorial

  • picks October 28, 2005

    Nina Kluth

    As the first show at its new Berlin branch, the Hamburg-based gallery Dörrie * Priess is presenting new paintings by Nina Kluth. The canvases are dominated by her gestus, a line that runs across free-flowing sections of color, outlining shapes that produce a vaguely naturalistic impression. Indeed, the works are based on landscape and architectural motifs. Kluth constantly combines abstract and figurative approaches in an artful interplay of color, materiality, and spatial suggestion. “I am interested in the canvas as a pictorial space where gestures are deposited,” says Kluth. “I want these

  • picks June 06, 2005

    Anselm Reyle

    One sculpture, two paintings, nothing more: In his exhibition “Life Enigma,” Anselm Reyle presents a monumental reductivism. The sculpture, a reddish-pink chromed bronze, is placed between large vertical stripe paintings that are hung on opposing walls and so become a foil (all works Untitled, 2005). The works and their placement bespeak a heroic modernism, touching too on a non-specific sacredness, though at the same time, they are surprisingly slick and dispassionate. Reyle has a refined sense of such contradictions. The seamlessly reflective sculpture, whose flowing volumes evoke Arp or Moore,

  • picks June 03, 2005

    Susanne Paesler

    This show offers a convincing selection of Susanne Paesler’s paintings from the last five years. Formally, the artist draws on the expressive repertoire of classical abstraction. Many of the images refer to elements of Art Informel and Abstract Expressionism, others to Concrete Art and Op Art, while still others combine these tendencies. Nonetheless, for Paesler it is not a matter of postmodern, ironic appropriation. Instead, she uses the forms and formulas of abstract movements as rhetorical figures. In her own independent mode of image-making, she performs the old gestures anew, and so revives

  • picks March 06, 2005

    Iris van Dongen

    The depths of ambivalence in Iris van Dongen’s imagery are difficult to plumb. Her elaborately worked drawings—dark scenes in which lone young women flit through thick forests—betray a Symbolist bent that ventures to the boundaries of kitsch, while throwing allusions to the pre-Raphaelites and Art Nouveau into the mix. For her show at the Künstlerhaus Bethanien (her work will also appear in New York’s next Armory Show and in an upcoming solo exhibition in the Hague) van Dongen presents three large drawings. The smallest, Into the Woods, 2004, presents a typical van Dongen figure: A pale

  • picks January 28, 2005

    Dierk Schmidt

    Dierk Schmidt works toward a new definition of history painting, one that critically engages political and economic structures. In his exhibition “Geiseln” (Hostages), Delacroix’s Liberty Guiding the People, 1830, and Géricault’s The Raft of the Medusa, 1818–19, are the points of departure for his confrontation with a 2001 incident in which a boat carrying 397 Indonesian refugees sank off the Australian coast. To this day, the Australian government has not released an official statement or any information about the accident—a reticence that, for Schmidt, exemplifies the implacable power that

  • picks January 28, 2005

    Jan Timme

    For Jan Timme, art history is a thickly etched network of signs, and his work takes on artists like Duchamp and Broodthaers without getting too tangled up in allusions. With almost casual gestures, he devises a free-floating matrix of ambiguity anchored by often-humorous reference points. According to Timme, his current show is “an exhibition that isn’t an exhibition.” It consists merely of a 12 x 12” tile inscribed with the text CARRER QUI NO PASSA (roughly, “dead end”). A replica of a street sign that Timme came across on a trip to the Spanish island Menorca, the tile has been placed flush in

  • picks January 03, 2005

    Joachim Grommek

    In Joachim Grommek’s new paintings, what you see is what you get–but pure illusion nevertheless. In each of the large untitled works—painted in lacquer, acrylic, and oil on chipboard—a narrow border at the top appears to be unworked. Actually, Grommek has covered the entire support with white base and has then created a bafflingly realistic rendering of the chipboard surface he just painted over. The large central section of each painting is abstract, foregrounding contrasting horizontal stretches of color. Here and there, slender, yellowish, translucent stripes look exactly like

  • picks November 28, 2004

    Inga Svala Thórsdóttir

    Hamburg-based artist Inga Svala Thórsdóttir has been working on “Project Borg,” on view at the Kunsthalle, for many years. “Borg” is Icelandic for “city,” and Thórsdóttir has located her eponymous vision of a pulsing metropolis on the exact spot where one of Iceland’s first settlers, Skallagrimur Kveldulfsson, built his farmstead. But, while ostensibly 21° west and 64° north north-west of Reykjavík, Borg is actually immaterial, a manifestation of creative energy. Thórsdóttir’s work takes the form of designs for buildings, equations that calculate inhabitants’ nutritional needs, and meditations