Louisa Elderton

  • picks March 19, 2020

    Monika Maurer-Morgenstern

    Sometimes you just need to have a quiet word with yourself. German artist Monika Maurer-Morgenstern’s works conjure such a psychological space: a many-colored penetrating self-dialogue, by turns calming and castigating. In her works on paper in pencil, crayon, pastel, and watercolor, from the 1970s to the present, Maurer-Morgenstern—who was formerly referred to as an outsider artist—suggests power plays within the self.

    Wein doch nicht (Don’t Cry), 1997, sees a scarlet apparition looming angrily over a cowering, wide-eyed figure, wild scribbles propelling outward from their chest, anxiety made

  • A.K. Burns

    A nosebleed, a thick pipe from which liquid drips, a juicer spilling pools of bejeweled color, the hazy aura of a sun eclipsed by the moon—these were among the images of leakage in the three video installations, a silent film, and twenty-one collages in A.K. Burns’s exhibition “Negative Space.” Another kind of leakage was evoked by Chelsea Manning’s military jacket, which reappeared throughout the series of sci-fi films on view, including two older works, A Smeary Spot (Negative Space 0), 2015, and Living Room (Negative Space 00), 2017; and the more recent Leave No Trace (Negative Space 000),

  • picks July 03, 2019

    “Max Beckmann in Dialogue: Cecily Brown, Ella Kruglyanskaya, Dana Schutz”

    “We are all tightrope walkers,” navigating the lines between art, grief, and passion—or so wrote Max Beckmann in “Letters to a Woman Painter,” composed for a 1948 lecture at Stephens College, the US’s second-oldest women’s college, in Columbia, Missouri. That same year, he arrived in the United States following his long exile from Nazi Germany and painted Die Walküre (The Valkyrie), a portrait of opera singer Minna Tube, his first wife and muse. Beckmann’s depiction of her as the spear-wielding principal from Wagner’s eponymous opera is a keystone work in this exhibition, which places the German

  • diary May 21, 2018

    From Bratwurst to Bulgari

    THEY SAY YOU CAN’T DO IT ALL. When it came to the fourteenth edition of Gallery Weekend Berlin and the second iteration of ArtMonte-Carlo—both of which opened on April 27 and ran until April 29—I did as much as I could. The organizers of the latter attempted a collaboration, ferrying collectors between the two sites via private jet and helicopter—not very Berlin, but very Monte Carlo. The idea was to coax the most coveted collectors from Monaco’s principality to Germany’s capital and vice versa. Not a bad idea given Berlin’s desire to entice the international elite.

    The New York Times hosted the

  • picks February 27, 2018

    Elham Rokni

    Iranian artist Elham Rokni confronts a subject that has been increasingly sidelined in the mainstream media of late, namely, the displacement of peoples due to war and conflict. After interviewing refugees from Eritrea and Sudan seeking asylum in Israel, the artist made mixed-media works on paper, a book, and a video recounting their folktales and oral histories, rendering stories as dreamlike images.

    Refugees’ rucksacks stored in treetops open the video The Seven Abdulkarims (all works cited, 2018) before we are introduced to Khamis Elshaikh/Abdulkarim, a Sudanese actor. Rokni and he visit the

  • picks February 16, 2018

    Leonor Antunes

    Leonor Antunes’s exhibition here, “the frisson of the togetherness,” thrills as rapturously as an eagerly anticipated kiss. Her materials, forms, and techniques coalesce to stirring effect, producing an atmosphere that carefully weaves the viewer into her mesmeric installation.

    Soft light from freestanding lamps, which casts gentle shadows, caresses the perforated shapes that divide the gallery. Leather horse bridals sit within tangled trellises; teak panels, reminiscent of room partitions, are laced together and fan out (permutations, all works cited, 2017). They’re punctured with large, triangular

  • picks October 12, 2017

    Holly Hendry

    The body has long been a subject of artistic investigation, from Leonardo da Vinci’s anatomical studies or Rembrandt’s paintings of autopsies to Alina Szapocznikow’s sensually corporeal sculptures of limbs and lips and Sarah Lucas’s 2009–2010 “NUDS” series, to name a few. The lineage leads to Holly Hendry, a young artist whose unique sculptural language abstracts the body into layers of organs and dermis, akin to the sedimentary buildup of soil.

    Following her graduation from the Royal College of Art last year, this is the artist’s first solo show in Berlin. Combining floor-based and wall-mounted

  • picks September 22, 2017

    Ed Clark

    Maybe you’ve heard of Ed Clark, but even if you haven’t, you’re in for a treat with this exhibition. Though a part of the Abstract Expressionist movement of the 1950s and an early adopter of working with shaped canvases, Clark—who was born in Louisiana in 1926 and grew up in Chicago—has retained a relatively low profile, only recently receiving a solo show at the Art Institute of Chicago, in 2013. Here, he presents paintings made between 1978 and 2013: large-scale canvases of brightly colored acrylics, fluid and forceful, as well as smaller pieces on paper of acrylic and dried pigment, which

  • diary September 19, 2017

    First Time’s a Charm

    BERLIN IS IN THE MIDST OF CHANGE, both seasonal and structural. Seasonal because a summer of torrential rain has finally given way to the blue skies and orange hues of autumn, and structural because, as Forbes said earlier this year, Berlin has “turned into a thriving global capital that draws investors.”

    One of said investors is the respected fair Art Cologne, which has now merged with art berlin contemporary (abc) to create Art Berlin. This event was inaugurated last week and, as most of Berlin’s art world succumbed to the flu, sales soared for art and Ibuprofen alike.

    The city’s exponential

  • picks September 08, 2017

    “From the Aesthetic of Administration”

    How do you envisage the aesthetics of administration? Early morning light, a wood-veneer desk, perhaps tea in a chipped mug? Conceptual artist Joshua Schwebel seeks to examine art from a structural perspective for this exhibition, which could be mistaken for a dowdy office. The show began as an email (a copy of which is pinned to the wall here), sent by Schwebel to Berlin’s arts-funding administration, the Senatsverwaltung für Kultur und Europa (Senate Administration for Culture and Europe), inviting its staff to produce artworks for his show. He received only two positive responses, from Pauline

  • diary June 24, 2017

    Julia’s Child

    SOMETIMES THE UNIVERSE throws you a curveball. Like at the ten-year anniversary exhibition of the Julia Stoschek Collection in Düsseldorf, where, standing in front of Ed Atkins and Simon Thompson’s SKY NEWS LIVE, a gripping newsfeed depicted the unfolding results of the British general election. Having witnessed from afar the Westminster, Manchester, and London Bridge attacks, sandwiched by Theresa May’s hard-line Brexit rhetoric and her snap election, I was ready to give up when reading a poll predicting the biggest Tory landslide since Thatcher. (No prizes for guessing my politics.) But as

  • picks June 19, 2017

    Sarah Sze

    American artist Sarah Sze’s immersive installation Timekeeper, 2016, renders time as a relative element that can be manipulated, layered, stalled, stretched, and compressed. You wander through what could be a mad scientist’s den, which takes the form of a three-dimensional collage incorporating a wildly higgledy-piggledy desk illuminated within a darkened room.

    Countless scraps of ripped paper are layered upon a thin metal armature. They gently blow in the wind from fans as projectors throw images of natural and urban realms, and there are even plastic potted plants on which the light beams

  • diary May 20, 2017

    Berlin Blitz

    AT THE START OF Gallery Weekend Berlin late last month, I found myself sprinting through the streets of Neukölln. This might come as no surprise—after all, we’re in the middle of 2017’s art marathon. But this was different, and having run three blocks to try to catch the man who had just stolen my wallet, kind strangers joining my chase along the way, we cornered him in the toilet of a kneipe (a German bar) and I was reunited with my booty. A good beginning.

    There was no time to celebrate, though, as I headed to the other side of town for the launch of “Robert Motherwell Masterprints” at Kunsthalle

  • picks April 18, 2017

    Nathalie Djurberg and Hans Berg

    References to sex pervade the culture, yet the intricacies of sexuality are deeply private. With their current exhibition here, “Who Am I to Judge, or, It Must be Something Delicious,” Nathalie Djurberg and Hans Berg upend this space with a joyous, dreamlike anxiety that’s suffused with the scatological, sensuous, and phallic.

    The exhibition’s titular sculptural installation, 2017, features cartoonish characters made of silicone and resin upon a raised platform, engaging in orgiastic debauchery. Spindly-armed acorns wrestle with a red-nosed banana; anthropomorphic turds weep aqua-blue tears; a

  • diary December 13, 2016

    Quarter Pounder

    YOU WOULD BE HARD-PRESSED to find anyone who dresses up in Berlin—a heel over two inches, a shade that isn’t some variation of black. So the fundraiser gala a fortnight back to mark twenty-five years of Berlin’s Kunst-Werke Institute for Contemporary Art was the perfect excuse for me, a Londoner away from home, to don a dress and soak up the glamour.

    How to make an entrance? Upon arriving, each guest was passed a lapis lazuli helium-filled balloon emblazoned with the letters KW. Moving through the candlelit courtyard (home to so many artist interventions through the years) most of these either

  • picks December 09, 2016

    “The Others”

    With this curatorial presentation, after having been selected to curate the 2017 Istanbul Biennial, Elmgreen & Dragset are cementing their identity as artist-curators. Occupying a former Catholic church, the exhibition directly responds to its architecture, bringing together fifteen works by twelve contemporary artists who reimagine the portrayal of the body within Christian iconography.

    The Catholic tradition favors emotive images of Christ, images that show him in positions of suffering and pain, his body beaten and stained with blood. By contrast, this show is a monochrome and almost sterile

  • picks December 02, 2016

    Patrick Goddard

    A giant spider is trapped under a glass, its legs feeling around for a way out; someone talks about a nest of baby pigeons, bleached and discarded in a black garbage bag. These are two of the disturbing images from Patrick Goddard’s mockumentary-style film, Looking for the Ocean Estate, 2016, a looping video that you settle down to watch on something akin to your parent’s sofa. Goddard’s narrative focuses on a self-conscious artist—a fictionalized version of himself—seeking “authenticity.” He returns to a poorer area of London where he briefly lived, only to find it gentrifying. The artist

  • picks October 17, 2016

    Augustas Serapinas

    Over the past twenty years, gentrification has been slowly but surely consuming East London. Local communities are often forced to relocate due to increasing rent. Augustas Serapinas’s current exhibition highlights this problem. The artist uses the story of a former locksmith evicted from the very site that the gallery temporarily occupies, before it is converted into high-end apartments.

    Serapinas creates a kind of mise en abyme, a smaller replica of the building—with identical windows and door. Peering inside, you discover a functioning sauna, complete with hot coals, towels, hanging chairs,

  • picks October 10, 2016

    Sofia Leiby

    Sometimes the insecurity of youth is palpable: Who am I? What do people think of me – of my art? With her first solo exhibition in Germany, “The Making of a Beyonder,” Sofia Leiby exposes this uncertainty and critiques the anxiety associated with the judgment of artists. Using a 1960s-era measuring device called the Torrance Test of Creative Thinking, designed by psychologist E. Paul Torrance, Leiby combines silk-screen printing, watercolor, gouache, and graphite to reproduce and embellish images from this test.

    Morning Sunrise (Barron-Welsh Art Figure Preference Test, D. W. Winicott Sketches,

  • diary September 26, 2016

    Alphabet City

    AFTER A SUMMER of near-arctic temperatures in Berlin, the sun and art world simultaneously sprang back into action in early September, as an Indian summer guided us into the Art Berlin Contemporary (abc) fair and countless concurrent exhibitions: the fifth Berlin Art Week.

    The highlight of the calendar was Cerith Wyn Evan’s opening at Galerie Neu on a Friday night. The artist’s fourth exhibition with the gallery, he chatted away with Berlin old-timer Angela Bulloch while his suspended glass panels reflected his white neon sentences. Fast-forward a few days and Kino International hosted the official