Jens Asthoff

  • 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

  • picks October 13, 2004

    Katarina Löfström

    Swedish artist Katarina Löfström was recently a resident at Berlin's Künstlerhaus Bethanien, where, last month, she exhibited two videos, Score and Tower (all works 2004). Her three- to five-minute loops are streams of abstract, animated images, their forms and colors constantly changing and intermingling. The large-scale projections become a kind of ambient presence, molding the gallery's atmosphere into “visual music.” An Island, her most recent work, inaugurates Jan Winkelmann's new gallery. It's composed of footage showing the nighttime lights of Stockholm's waterfront Gröna Lund amusement

  • picks October 05, 2004

    Henning Bohl

    In this show of drawings, collages, and two installations (one inspired by Mike Kelley), Henning Bohl neatly demonstrates how utopian formulations are inevitably diluted and reduced to cliché by misappropriation. The show is dominated by Theater Heute (Theater Today), 2004. Bohl uses several unprimed canvases—plastered with colorful strips of fabric that form semi-abstract graphic elements such as bamboo stems and leaves—as a divider in the middle of the room. The images are backgrounds and castoffs from earlier Bohl paintings, while the silhouette technique directly references Matisse.

  • picks September 28, 2004

    Helmut Dorner

    Even back in the 1980s, when the young Helmut Dorner first achieved recognition for his abstractions, he was taking a process-oriented approach to painting while at the same time seeking to move beyond materiality. In his most recent group of works, Dorner has continued to expand on his foundations. At Vera Munro, he’s showing large paintings created by pouring lacquer into clear, shallow Plexiglas containers. Hung with the flat surface of the Plexiglas facing the viewer, the swirling layers of color exude a sense of frozen spontaneity. They look something like Ab-Ex action painting, while their

  • picks August 10, 2004

    International Photo-Triennale

    “Hardly anything in the world today exists in greater abundance than photographs,” Andreas Baur and Ludwig Seyfarth, the curators of Esslingen’s 6th International Photo-Triennale, point out. Bringing together works by sixteen artists (including Monika Brandmeier, Willie Doherty, Hamish Fulton, Jochen Lempert, Bettina Lockemann, Martha Rosler, Daniela Keiser, Ralf Weissleder and Erik Steinbrecher), Baur and Seyfarth show a particular interest in a phenomenon that is partly responsible for the photograph’s rampant proliferation: the archive. They present classics of the genre like Ed Ruscha’s

  • picks August 10, 2004

    Alexander Rischer

    With his documentary-style black-and-white photos, Hamburg artist Alexander Rischer conducts a kind of visual archaeology, excavating a specific sector of European cultural history. He traveled extensively to find and document the ruins of medieval churches, focusing on sacred objects like Feldsteinkirchen (ancient stone chapels found in the countryside), Totenleuchten (lamp-topped pillars placed in graveyards to provide light for the souls of the dead), and Außenkanzeln (exterior pulpits). Rischer always photographs in daylight, and his subjects look like sculptures—preternaturally still and

  • picks August 10, 2004

    Peter Doig

    This show provides a glimpse of the work Peter Doig has made since his 2002 move from London to Trinidad, where he spent his childhood. The exotic has become a recurring theme, but one that is complicated and disrupted: Doig crosses light-drenched Caribbean landscapes with his customary panoply of imagery from old postcards, calendars, Daumier prints, and other sources. Stylistically, the paintings borrow just as promiscuously: By the River, 2003, recalls Munch; the limpid Lapyrouse Wall, 2004, brings Hopper to mind. Thus the works can’t be located in Trinidad, precisely, but seem to exist in

  • picks July 15, 2004

    Janice Kerbel

    In works like Bank Job, 1999, a meticulously researched plan for a bank robbery, or Bird Island Project, 2002–2003, which used a website to sell time-shares on a nonexistent tropical island, Janice Kerbel has demonstrated a knack for inventing detailed fictions that subtly turn reality on its head. At Guenther/Borgmann the Canadian-born, London-based artist revisits the criminological territory of Bank Job. On a drawing of the gallery’s blueprint, she’s carefully rendered “sight lines” and “sound lines”—that is, every axis along which an intruder could move without being given away by shadows

  • picks June 25, 2004

    Tomma Abts

    Six small paintings by London-based German artist Tomma Abts are currently on view at Nourbakhsch. The size of the show is due as much to the amount of time Abts puts into each painting as it is to the rising demand for her work. But the economical installation and intelligent selection achieve a concentrated effectiveness. Each panel follows a strict yet unconventional logic that the artist determines during the painting process and lets develop into singular, impressively austere compositions. Though abstract, they often sustain a discreet illusionism, and Abts cunningly plays each side against

  • picks June 04, 2004

    Sonja Vordermaier

    K3 is the perfect location for Sonja Vordermaier’s extensive installation. The imposing, almost threatening dimensions of the large industrial space amplify the palpable tension created by the artist’s constructions, most of which would encompass an ordinary-sized room. Vordermaier (born in 1973 and based in Hamburg and Zurich) skillfully exploits her unusual, often recycled materials, setting up situations in which they alternately cooperate and conflict. One of the works here appears at first to be a multitude of black ropes that, spreading outwards from a single point, pass through most of

  • picks May 19, 2004

    Anna Oppermann

    From the start of her career, in the ‘60s, right up through the early ‘90s, Anna Oppermann (1940–93) devoted herself to hybrid text-image installations. A participant in many Documentas and biennales, Oppermann completed seventy of these complex works in all, of which only four are currently accessible to the public. With this exhibition, art agents gallery has temporarily added four more. Oppermann’s process entailed gathered drawings, paintings, photographs, slide projections, found objects, clippings from books and magazines, and handwritten texts, which she arranged (sometimes over a span

  • picks May 04, 2004

    Christine Streuli

    Following recent solo shows in New York and Zurich, young Swiss artist Christine Streuli is exhibiting new work at Sfeir-Semler. Walking into the gallery, you’re struck first and foremost by the profusion of color: Streuli’s opulent paintings blend figurative and abstract forms into unique, chromatically intense images. Next to the larger works (often larger than six by six feet) are numerous smaller pieces that look like studies and that illuminate the artist’s process—showing, for example, her experiments with metallic or phosphorescent effects. Some of Streuli’s paintings seem hampered

  • picks March 03, 2004


    Korpys/Löffler have appeared mostly in large, themed group shows. You might recognize the duo’s work from “German Open” (Wolfsburg, 1999), “Ökonomien der Zeit” (Economies of Time; Cologne, Berlin, Zürich, 2002) or “Art & Economy” (Hamburg, 2002). Now, the Städtische Galerie Nordhorn has given them a retrospective, providing viewers with a comprehensive look at their drawings, installations, photographs, and videos, which combine elements of documentary and fiction. The artists focus mostly on issues of “security” and its sociopolitical ramifications, illuminating unseen systems of surveillance

  • picks March 01, 2004

    Nina Könnemann

    Video artist Nina Könnemann depicts interim worlds, zones through which people reenter the everyday after the kind of collective transcendent experiences that might be had at, say, a rock concert. Taking a sober and even disaffected tone, the films seem fictional but are actually documentary, and cumulatively they offer a disquieting portrait. At Galerie Karin Guenther, Könnemann shows two new works: Castles Made of Sand, 2004, and Der Firmling (The Candidate for Confirmation), 2004. In the first, one finds oneself swept along as the camera zigzags along a shabby pedestrian underpass through

  • picks February 13, 2004

    Paul Winstanley

    Paul Winstanley, born in the UK in 1954, works primarily in two classical genres, the interior and the landscape. In his often very large, realistically rendered photo-based oils, he plays subtle games with handed-down motifs while translating photographic vision back into the “slow medium” of painting. His depictions of anonymous contemporary spaces—empty waiting rooms and lecture halls, never-ending pavilions, elegant lobbies, hospital corridors gleaming under fluorescent lights—reiterate venerable conventions: The barren melancholy of his rooms, rarely occupied by human figures, recalls

  • picks December 08, 2003

    Nicole Wermers

    For the past few years Nicole Wermers has been making objects that walk a provocative line between autonomy and functionality—as in her 2002 series “French Junkies,” a group of elegant sculptures-cum-ashtrays. In her latest work, she draws closer to “pure” abstraction while continuing to explore the conventions of architecture and interior design. At Galerie Borgmann/Nathusius, a series of pseudo-Cubist collages feature cut-paper shapes whose recognizable finishes—wood grain, for example, or metallic sheen—seem to allude to glossy “shelter” magazines. Also on view are two large

  • picks November 04, 2003

    Teresa Hubbard/Alexander Birchler

    Texas-based artists Teresa Hubbard and Alexander Birchler are well known on the international circuit for their photographic and moving-image projects, which explore, and often dismantle, narrative and architectural structures. Their first major Hamburg show includes a model of a trailer, three videos, and numerous photos that look like production stills. The plots of the videos are minimal and circular: In Eight, 2001, for example, a little girl looks out her window onto a rainy night. The room dissolves, and the girl is left in her backyard, where a festively bedecked table stands in the