Jurriaan Benschop

  • Philipp Fürhofer

    The title of Philipp Fürhofer’s recent exhibition, “Walpurgisnacht,” was borrowed from a scene in Goethe’s Faust, so we can assume that the show’s recurrent concern with light was to be understood not only literally, but also in a symbolic way. The thirteen pieces on view could be called assemblages, light boxes, or paintings; in most cases, they were all three at once. Many of the works harked back to the tradition of Romantic landscape painting.

    Using a transparent acrylic glass box as a base for most of the works, Fürhofer brought in incandescent lightbulbs and LED tubes, usually lots of them,

  • André Butzer

    I was lucky to see André Butzer’s new paintings on a sunny winter day, with natural light coming in to make visible what is hidden in their black surfaces. There were eight big and nine medium-size dark paintings in Galerie Max Hetzler’s Bleibtreustraße location, along with one very large and colorful canvas, a small work on paper executed in colored pencil and crayon, and an artist’s book. The dark paintings each have a sort of vertical seam, right of the center, where light seems to come through, sometimes clear, most often faint. Around this so-called Fuge, or gap, brushwork is visible, dark

  • Angelika J. Trojnarski

    “Currently I am more attracted to sculptors than to painters. They look at objects from all sides,” Angelika J. Trojnarski remarked, with an eye to this exhibition, titled “The Rising.” The Polish-born, Düsseldorf-based painter is interested in three-dimensional moving bodies such as airplanes and ships, and in the technologies that make mobility possible. Even though she usually depicts her motifs in two dimensions, an understanding of volumes is essential to her work. In this exhibition, three larger oil paintings were combined with seven collages, a hanging fabric piece, and two small MDF

  • Norbert Bisky

    Built in a Brutalist style, the former Saint Agnes Church that is now the König Galerie is anything but a neutral gallery space. The hanging paintings on the high walls of its nave can easily, perhaps too easily, bring out any spiritual aspirations the works may harbor. Norbert Bisky wisely—and humbly, even if some of his paintings appear to be the opposite of modest—chose to resist this temptation. The twenty-six works in this show, “Trilemma,” were presented on three double-sided walls of increasing size, designed for the occasion and placed zigzag in the nave. This arrangement seemed

  • picks November 27, 2017

    David Schutter

    David Schutter’s three grayish paintings, all titled with variations of ANB M 109 (all works 2017), seem to turn their backs on the viewer, showing hardly any articulation or contrast. Once adjusted to the dark surfaces, though, one can discern some color in the mix, as well as a painterly hand at work. With time, distinctions appear between gestures, movements, lighter patches against dark: Is that a head, a ghostlike appearance, or just a wiped surface? A white-on-white silverpoint, Study Sheet for ANB M 109 1, executed blindly, completes the show, assuring us that the overall focus of these

  • Iulia Nistor

    The work of Iulia Nistor focuses on the unseen and the hidden rather than the obvious or the representational. It suggests that omissions in visual availability can evoke a sense of the real. Considering the proliferation of digital imagery in recent years and the daily flood of representations, the medium of painting enables a different take on what matters. The main body of Nistor’s exhibition “canary in a coal mine” was formed by eleven small panels, each titled Evidence and no bigger than about twenty by sixteen inches, creating a modest and intimate space. The most expressive actor in the

  • picks July 17, 2017

    Richard Serra

    Richard Serra forgoes color in his drawings, considering it an added value, not a structural property. Color does not fit the straight logic of his process, in which materials exist unto themselves and not as references to anything else. This exhibition presents around eighty of these black-and-white drawings, the majority made in the past two years. They are drawings by a sculptor, but not in the sense that they are sketches or structural three-dimensional representations. Rather, the works share some basic aspects of their conception with Serra’s sculptural work. The compositions are the result

  • Vajiko Chachkhiani

    “For me, it is important to let works happen—I don’t approach a work by thinking, ‘Now I’m going to make a sculpture,’” Vajiko Chachkhiani once remarked. The Georgian artist’s recent exhibition “Summer which was not there” certainly foregrounded the question of what makes certain works feel “natural” and others less so. The show consisted of nine sculptural works and two videos, of which the latest, Winter which was not there, 2017, was without a doubt the show’s highlight—its down-to-earth poetry and fine sense of understatement conveyed a convincing inevitability.

    As the video begins,

  • Dan Attoe

    “I never thought I would be a landscape painter,” Dan Attoe once remarked—and yet landscapes have played a role in all his work to date, as settings for figures in action. Attoe grew up in nature, his parents working as foresters around the country, so he is familiar with the often spectacular natural settings of the United States. Yet as a small-town kid he is also used to being bored, feeling alienated, or “doing crazy shit” (as he put it in a 2014 lecture). His early experiences have poured into his oeuvre of the past decades, which comprises highly detailed figure paintings depicting

  • picks March 27, 2017

    Mirosław Bałka

    Eighteen works emerge from the dark in this huge industrial hall. The exhibition starts and ends with Holding the Horizon, 2016, which is installed above the entrance and shows a simple yellow horizontal shape that nervously moves up and down on a LED screen. Continuing through the exhibition, it becomes clear that this horizon introduces scale, balance, and orientation, just as it questions and disturbs all of this. It is an image making an effort to hold itself up.

    Wege zur Behandlung von Schmerzen (Ways to Treat Pain), 2011, is emblematic of Mirosław Bałka’s attitude. This sculpture confronts

  • picks February 10, 2017

    Jonathan Bragdon

    Is consciousness something you can depict? This is the challenge Jonathan Bragdon takes up in his “Consciousness Portraits,” a series of small, diary-like drawings he’s been making since 2012, thirty-two of which are on display. Bragdon’s intimate oeuvre aims to bridge the gap between objective, empirical knowledge and subjective experience. He explores this field of interest across the works included here, as in five small landscape paintings from 2015–16 where he seems to capture the temperature and atmosphere during different seasons. In the graphite drawings “Les Diablerets,” 2013–16, an

  • Matthew Metzger

    What is the relation between abstract and figurative painting, and how do we read abstraction some fifty years after the twilight of Abstract Expressionism? These questions seem to be at the heart of Matthew Metzger’s practice, and they connect the quite diverse works in his recent exhibition “The Shade of a Line.”

    In two works from the series “The Condition,” 2015, we see the image of a machete, with the aged metal blade and wooden grip rendered in fine detail. The knife is positioned in the paintings’ middle, stretching to the panels’ left and right edges, forming a horizon and cutting the

  • picks November 23, 2016

    Gina Malek

    In her paintings, Gina Malek does not just depict human figures in moments of physical action or tension; she transmits physicality directly through her mark-making. It is difficult to decide who the protagonists are in her paintings: the abstract marks, appearing boldly against colorful backgrounds, or the figures moving through and between them.

    The eleven oil paintings on view here spring from the expressive potential of contained painterly gestures. The use of transparent layers, as in Forward (all works 2016), creates the impression of a light source is coming from behind. At times, figuration

  • picks November 02, 2016

    Robert Muntean

    One of the works in Robert Muntean’s exhibition “Sonic Wave” is titled Disappearer (all works cited, 2016). It can hardly be a coincidence that a song by Sonic Youth has the same title; the artist has frequently referred to music throughout his work. For him, the dissonance and consonance in the composition and the tonalities of color in a painting are important.

    The figures in Muntean’s oil-on-canvas works often look like they are about to appear or disappear due to the layering of abstract gestures and fields of color. Across their surfaces, incorporating different types of mark-making, there

  • Ernst Wilhelm Nay

    Although he was born in Berlin, I’ve never thought of Ernst Wilhelm Nay as a particularly German painter. For Nay himself, though, being German was something hard to escape. German artists in the postwar decades had to contend with suspicion, if not antipathy, on the international stage. Considering this, Nay did quite well, although his success was possibly helped by the fact that his later paintings corresponded well with the American Abstract Expressionism of his generation. The exhibition “Nay 1964” offered a closer look into one specific series from Nay’s late work: his so-called “Augenbilder

  • Georg Baselitz

    Among the works in the exhibition “The Heroes” was The Modern Painter, 1965, showing a male figure against a light background, some brushes sticking out of his backpack. This painter, however, is not able to paint, since both his hands are stuck in traps on the ground. He is one of the many handicapped heroes that Georg Baselitz painted in the series known as “The Heroes” or “The New Types,” in 1965–66, when he was in his late twenties. Forty of them were on display in this exhibition, together with thirty drawings from the same era.

    These hero-painters are survivors of battle. Lonely and

  • Daniel Richter

    This midcareer retrospective comprises forty-five oils by Daniel Richter, representing the German painter’s broad range—from his dense abstract constellations of the mid-1990s to the narrative works of the early 2000s to his reduced figure studies from last year. Typically discussed in the context of recent European history, Richter’s practice carries on the task of questioning German identity. All too relevant today, Tarifa, 2001, depicts huddled refugees—race reconfigured through Richter’s vibrant color palette—aboard a dinghy drifting out of the

  • Lia Kazakou

    To what extent can beauty be convincing in contemporary figurative painting? After a century filled with so many examples of distorted and fragmented depictions of the human figure, any encounter with a classic, balanced sense of beauty seems almost suspicious, particularly if transmitted through a technique that is reminiscent of old-master paintings. Such is the case with Thessaloniki-based painter Lia Kazakou, whose paintings ask, What context does beauty need to make us feel it is true?

    Details such as the shadows produced by a fold in a jacket or the ornamental abundance of a flower pattern

  • picks May 13, 2016

    Edmund de Waal

    For this exhibition, titled “Irrkunst,” Edmund de Waal took inspiration from Walter Benjamin, who spent his childhood in the same neighborhood where this gallery’s two spaces are located. Benjamin’s method of getting lost while walking and exploring cities, or looking for a system to structure his writings (without ever succeeding), is a model that de Waal embraces for his own practice as an artist.

    The majority of works here are Plexiglas vitrines filled with small porcelain vessels, all made in 2016. The arrangement of similar-looking white, or occasionally black, ones clustered in tidy groups

  • picks April 22, 2016

    “The One–The Real”

    A fascination with the form of portraits underlies this exhibition composed around the work of Tom Callemin. His video Portrait #4, 2015, shows the face of a girl who stares without ever blinking, while Portrait #2, 2013, is a slow-motion recording of the face of a woman having an orgasm. In both cases we get to see expressions that, in daily life, usually cannot be observed with such minute attention. In Callemin’s photographs taken at night, the camera acts as an enhanced eye. Its flash is the only light source that makes the various subjects—such as a tree, a dark hole in the grass, or a