Kristian Vistrup Madsen

  • St. Bernard. Photo: Kristian Vistrup Madsen.
    diary February 06, 2020

    Last Resort

    TO GET TO THE ALPINE VILLAGE OF VERBIER, I cabbed to the airport at five in the morning, flew to Geneva, and from there took the train two hours along the north side of Lac Léman. Then I transferred to a smaller train for another half hour before catching a ski lift into the clouds. This trek was thrilling at first—magical, really—and, finally, somewhat absurd, given that this year’s Verbier Art Summit is titled “Resource Hungry: On Our Cultured Landscape and Its Ecological Impact.” I had come solely to attend this event—for which the Dia Foundation’s Jessica Morgan had asked an array of artists,

  • Michaela Meise, Goodnight, Seattle, and good mental health, 2019, mixed media, 27 1⁄2 × 39 3⁄8".

    Michaela Meise

    You never know what you’re looking for until you find it. In my case, I found it in the reference to the late-1990s sitcom Frasier in the new works by Michaela Meise for this exhibition, titled “Guten Tag” (Good Day). The show began with this greeting and finished with the line that the fictional psychotherapist Dr. Frasier Crane always used at the end of his call-in radio show—GOODNIGHT, SEATTLE AND GOOD MENTAL HEALTH—scrawled across the last of Meise’s seven collages on paper or paperboard. The modest display followed the palatable format of a radio show or TV episode: Each collage offered a

  • Mikael Brkic, Mr. Canvas, 2017, acrylic, canvas, wood, plywood, 69 3/4 x 71".
    picks December 09, 2019

    Mikael Brkic

    Too famous and too beige, Paris has turned into so overpowering an image, it’s impossible not to feel trapped by it. A black-and-white stock photo of two lovers promenading the Seine is duplicated thrice in Mikael Brkic’s work Paris – A Love Story, 2019, which borrows its name from former NPR correspondent Kati Marton’s memoir as well as the book’s cover image. Marton lived in Europe during the 1990s conflicts in the former Yugoslavia while her late husband, American diplomat Richard Holbrooke, negotiated the 1995 Dayton peace agreement, but this backdrop is mostly absent from her romantic

  • Sophie von Hellermann, Urania, 2019, acrylic on canvas, 78 3⁄4 × 74 3⁄4".

    Sophie von Hellermann

    Sophie von Hellermann’s exhibition “Swirls and Circles” was like a trip to a funfair. Like the ghost house or the freak show, her large, brightly colored canvases were fictions sustained not by their credibility but, quite the opposite, by their total fancy and one’s willingness to indulge it. There were centaurs, a sleeping beauty, and women in yellow hovering around a giant eye, everything wrapped in pastel hues and fluorescent flashes. These apparitions were easy to get into and hard to hold on to.

    In all the paintings, but especially in the larger, more elaborate compositions such as Urania

  • Attendees gathered around Tomás Saraceno’s Museo Aero Solar outside of silent green Kulturquartier, Berlin. All photos: Hannes Wiedemann.
    diary November 13, 2019

    Basic Extinct

    I SPENT THE WEEKEND IN A FORMER CREMATORIUM thinking about death. The occasion was a two-day symposium organized by SAVVY Contemporary as part of their exhibition “The Long Term You Cannot Afford: On the Distribution of the Toxic.” The colloquium coincided with the thirtieth anniversary of the dismantling of the Berlin Wall, and though it had already been a month since David Hasselhoff made his traditional appearance for the official reunification day, a kind of kitsch-comedown still weighed on the festivities. I’ll admit that I hadn’t exactly looked forward to contemplating the apocalypse over

  • Nilbar Güreş, Elsewhere’s Palm Trees, 2012–18, HD video, color, silent, 9 minutes 2 seconds. From “Rust & Bones.”

    “Rust & Bones”

    While some things deteriorate with time’s passing, others resist its effects. Or so the title “Rust & Bones” seemed to remind us. But this tight gathering of works by Ulf Aminde, Nilbar Güreş, Laurel Nakadate, and Justin Liam O’Brien was more oblique than that. It was an exhibition about relationality and confrontation that asked viewers to privilege efforts at reconciliation and togetherness over the conflict and isolation that often seem their inevitable outcome.

    In Nakadate’s short video Exorcism in January, 2009, the artist, a young woman, visits an older man in his messy, gray apartment.

  • diary September 26, 2019

    Coup de Graz

    “STYRIAN AUTUMN SOUNDS LIKE BEER TENTS AND NATIONALISM,” a bike messenger said to me upon my return to Vienna from Graz, where I attended the Fifty-Second Steirischer Herbst, Europe’s oldest contemporary art festival. “It’s precisely the opposite,” I retorted. “Think cool graphic design and radical leftist politics—you can add quotes around ‘radical,’ depending on your temperament.” But is this time-honored event actually so incongruent with its rustic surroundings, the undeniably progressive typeface aside? Graz is a place where everything, including Ekaterina Degot’s program, walks the line

  • Veit Laurent Kurz, Herba Stammtisch (Herba Regulars’ Table), 2019, mixed media, dimensions variable.

    Veit Laurent Kurz

    “The principles of life are to be found in shit,” wrote Veit Laurent Kurz in the text that accompanied this recent exhibition “Nutrition and Drama.” Here, Kurz told of a freaky tribe of dwarfs called the Dilldapp, whose excrement was said to flow through the pipes we saw in the gallery. The pipes connecting various Styrofoam structures were filled with a grass-green liquid known as Herba-4, the cure for all sorts of ills. Present in various shapes and sizes, the Dilldapp themselves were of a crumbling plaster-white texture and opulently dressed in Biedermeier silks, though dripping sickly pus

  • View of “Quissac,” 2019.
    picks July 12, 2019

    Yalda Afsah

    In Yalda Afsah’s video Vidourle, 2019, a mass of youngsters sift around in murky water, stirring with anticipation. One wears a statement T-shirt that reads, “DON’T BELIEVE THE HYPE.” What’s the hype? We don’t know. As the boys run out of the frame, waves glistening, the video cuts to a cropped image of their absence, then to their audience: girls clutching at a fence and biting their lips. A guy whips the ground with a green pool noodle. Afsah has set a scene at once totally disjointed and completely captivating.

    Vidourle and another short video, Tourneur, 2018, are shown opposite and, in turn,

  • Attendees gathered for Ina Hagen’s performance. All photos: Kristian Madsen Vistrup.
    diary June 12, 2019

    Mixed Emotions

    FOR TEENAGERS, there is no such thing as too much angst, too much pain, too much love. No emotion is ever enough. This is what made the Norwegian web series Skam (2015–17) such a sensation: It illustrated perfectly the simultaneous intensity and mundanity of adolescence. Most of the time, you’re torrenting Romeo + Juliet in bed and shedding a single tear. At some point, life stops being (as) boring, emotions become burdens, and we cordon them off somewhere. I met Isak from Skam, in real life known as Tarjei Sandvik Moe, at Kunstnernes Hus and momentarily returned to a pubescent state of elation.

  • Torsten Andersson, Ljuskrona av trä (Chandelier of Wood), 1980–89, oil on canvas, 59 × 51 1⁄4".

    Torsten Andersson

    It’s circa 1960, and some people are once again starting to say painting is dead. In its terminal state, the monochrome, it has transformed into an exercise in rendering space and void. But at the same time, in Sweden, Torsten Andersson (1926–2009) is frantically attempting a resuscitation. His painting Molnen Mellan Oss (The Clouds Between Us), 1966, although not on view at Galerie Nordenhake, lent its name to this exhibition, in testimony to the decisive role it played in concluding a period the artist termed his “struggle for language.”

    Among the works on display, Ljuskrona av trä (Chandelier

  • Dealers Bärbel Trautwein, Alex Schröder (Neu), and Marie Christine Molitor with collector Alexander Vilvil.
    diary May 01, 2019

    Shark Tank

    ON FRIDAY, I FLEW TO CÔTE D’AZUR in a private jet, and I am happy to confirm that the Alps are still snowcapped—it’s not all over quite yet, then. The lunch excursion was to Art Monte Carlo, an event that inserts itself into Berlin Gallery Weekend by making available a private shuttle. A luminously beautiful girl who sat with me on the plane got several hundred likes for a selfie taken in its cream leather interior. “Instagram is like alcohol: It manufactures the lack that drives it,” said a Greek collector with indigo eyeshadow who otherwise kept quiet. Her gold bangles rattled as our Mercedes