Noemi Smolik

  • Kasmir Malevich

    WHY DID KASIMIR MALEVICH, whose name has become the very embodiment of abstract painting, end his life's work with figure paintings and portraits that strike admirers of Suprematism with pure horror? Why this treason against the square? Not even this exhibition of works from the collection of the State Russian Museum in St. Petersburg, the largest show to date of Malevich's late period, can offer an answer. But what if it was not treason at all? What if this development was inherent in the painter's work from the very beginning?

    The exhibition contained many depictions of peasants, whom Malevich

  • Korpys/Löffler

    A dead man, a soldier, is lying on the floor. He’s on his back, his legs outstretched. A brown branch that appears to originate from an unusual plant is boring its way through his head. It’s like an old horror film: brutal, but also harmless and artificial. Both man and tree are made of the cheap foam material used in the building trade for sealing joints. They’ve been spray painted: the man green, the tree dark brown.

    On a monitor sitting on the floor in a far corner of the room behind the corpse a video is playing. There are buildings set in a green landscape. They are under construction—or

  • Christian Jankowski

    Christian Jankowski came to international attention with his innovative, intelligent, and funny video installation Telemistica, 1999, at the last Venice Biennale. But until now, there has been little opportunity to see his work in his native Germany. And so Udo Kittelmann, the director of the Kunstverein in Cologne, decided to present the Venice installation.

    Telemistica shows the responses of five Italian fortune-tellers whom Jankowski called during their television programs to consult about the success or failure of his upcoming participation in the Biennale. They ask him about his type of

  • Monika Baer

    Those who know Monika Baer’s early paintings might be struck momentarily speechless by the artist’s recent work. Her large new canvases feature eyes and mouths, sketched in pink, swimming on a white ground. Some of the eyes gaze at the viewer; others look up, glance to the side, or are closed. The lashes are finely rendered, the shadows around the eyelids painted with delicate precision. They lend the eyes a sculpted, even plastic appearance, allowing them to bulge almost monstrously from the canvas. In some of the pictures, the mouth is closed and only barely hinted at. When it is shown open,

  • Gregor Schneider: Cellar

    For the last fifteen years, Gregor Schneider has been frantically “redoing” the interior of his little house in Rheydt, not far from Düsseldorf. Occasionally he rips out a few rooms and sends them off to a museum. For this show in Vienna, organized by Secession president Matthias Herrmann, he’s duplicating, stone for stone, what he calls “the last hole”—his cellar, here a grotto-like cave. As always, the thirty-year-old artist affords a glimpse into his home—a structure ordinary enough from the outside, but filled with fantastical corridors and uncanny spaces—and offers a view onto everyday life

  • Tobias Rehberger

    The objects exhibited in “Fragments of their pleasant spaces (in my fashionable version)” have a peculiar provenance. Tobias Rehberger asked five friends for a description of a “comfortable niche”; then, taking their responses, he created five groups of furniture, painstakingly executed, including a seemingly Arp-inspired seating area and a wood stand that facilitates watching the news on TV while cooking, titled Cutting, preparing, without missing anything, and being happy about what comes next (all works 1999). Another piece, a wide, cushioned platform set on a carpet with a side table sporting

  • Franz Erhard Walther

    For about thirty years the Hamburg-based artist Franz Erhard Walther has pursued—with admirable persistence—an elusive approach to artmaking that he calls “another concept of the work of art.” Over the years Walther’s innovative projects have often suffered from critical neglect, but three comprehensive retrospective exhibitions in Cologne and Hannover recently provided a long-overdue opportunity to reevaluate his career.

    While he was still an art student, Walther began to take a radical approach to sculpture, choosing to return to a ground-zero point at which the only materials that remained

  • Carl Ostendarp

    In recent years narrative has been finding its way back into contemporary art via installation, video, photography, and even painting. The New York–based painter Carl Ostendarp, for example, encourages narrative readings of his canvases. In Dead on it, 1997, one of the works in his recent show, a wavy brown line divides the painting into tan and white sections. Above the line floats a solid brown balloon resembling those in comic strips. It contains no words or letters, though, so it could simply be an abstract form or a stylized body part—a stomach, perhaps, or a breast with a large nipple. In

  • Ralf Berger

    At first glance the gallery space seemed devoid of art objects, although you could hear an irritating, ear-numbing drilling sound. Turning to find the source of the din, however, you discovered a video monitor hanging below the ceiling. On its screen appeared an image of a jackhammer’s revolving shaft, thundering and shuddering as it sank into a concrete floor; hands, straining to hold the drill, appeared in close-up. Eventually it became apparent that the jackhammer was boring into the floor of the same gallery space, and that the actual floor was riddled with perforations.

    Ralf Berger has said,

  • Judith Samen

    The aesthetic of the Düsseldorf school of photography is by now a familiar one: distanced, straightforward shots of people, landscapes, cities, and museum interiors, subjects often photographed with such objective detachment that it can take a considered effort to determine whether the work is by Thomas Ruff, Andreas Gursky, Thomas Struth, or Candida Höfer. Although Judith Samen grew up in the Ruhrgebiet and studied at the Kunstakademie in Düsseldorf, her photographs manifest a completely different style.

    As Samen freely admits, it is not the medium of photography itself that interests her: rather

  • Michel Majerus

    One finds in the work of the young German painter Michel Majerus an array of disparate images and gestures—everything from colorful brushstrokes and blank surfaces to grinning cartoon faces and dark, morose scribbles. Given the abundance of visual imagery, it is almost impossible to form a coherent impression of the work. For his recent show Majerus installed thirty rectangular paintings in five rows so that one wall was entirely covered from floor to ceiling; he also installed four paintings in two rows, one above the other, on the opposite wall.

    The paintings featured a face from a comic book,

  • Andreas Slominski/Ayse Erkmen

    This show, which featured work by German artist Andreas Slominski and Turkish artist Ayse Erkmen, was the inaugural exhibition in a series of site-specific collaborations entitled “Zuspiel” (Pass to the side), to take place in Germany and Switzerland over the next two years.

    The title of Erkmen’s installation, Portiport, 1996, played on the words “airport” and “Portikus.” Installed at the entrance to the building, the piece consisted of seven metal detectors placed between and to the sides of the six classical columns on the front of the building, so that anyone who wished to enter the space was

  • Frances Scholz

    Frances Scholz’s recent show consisted of six large, nonobjective paintings in acrylic on canvas. The paintings were coloristically suggestive, with muted greens placed against luminous pinks and yellows, and their expansive surfaces contained narrow stripes running horizontally and vertically. Some of the larger areas of color were applied in translucent layers, creating where they overlap new shades, as well as an illusion of depth that is disrupted by the more opaque areas.

    At the beginning of her artistic career Scholz was fascinated by cinema—in fact, she had aspired to become a filmmaker—and

  • Charline von Heyl

    Charline von Heyl’s new works are difficult to categorize: neither abstract nor objective, neither symbolic nor narrative, they seem to take something from every genre. They also differ markedly from her earlier works, seeming to take pleasure in the act of painting itself. It has become almost sacrilegious to speak of pleasure in relation to painting. The correct stance is, of course, to doubt painting, to question, criticize, reject, yet to go on painting, expressing this uneasy relationship to the medium in the pictures themselves. This was the path followed by von Heyl and some of her fellow

  • Gabriele Dauerer

    In her earlier paintings, Gabriele Dauerer depicted people, seated at tables piled high with food, who seemed driven by an inexorable greed. In her most recent works, the human figure has been replaced by abstract forms comprised, actually, of hangers that have been crossed to form shapes so that the original elements are no longer recognizable. There is no focal point in these works, rather the forms spread in all directions, covering the surfaces in an avalanche of brightly colored shapes. Much like the gluttonous people in Dauerer’s earlier paintings grasping for food, these forms claim the

  • Haralampi G. Oroschakoff

    Although the 20th century could be called the century of refugees, the century in which those who lost their own culture were forced to adopt another, these refugees have left few traces of their struggles, their failures, and their doubts in the visual arts. While literature has relied heavily on such experiences, the visual arts seem to have been little touched by this question, except in recent years.

    Today many artists attempt to locate their cultural origins and identity. Haralampi G. Oroschakoff has been on this quest for more than ten years. He was born in Bulgaria to a Russian family,

  • Franz Erhard Walther

    In 1964, the exhibition of Franz Erhard Walther’s work in Fulda was greeted with great excitement. Today, 30 years later, Veir Loers, the director of the Fridericianum, remembers that exhibition as a “model for the ideas of minimal art, conceptual art, and concrete poetry.” For this reason he reconstructed this early exhibition, using mostly the original works shown in ’64, for the show he mounted at Kassel entitled “Sieben Werkgesaenge” (Seven work songs).

    In a rectangular room with a window right off the entrance, there was a square delineated by a ten-meter-long string in the rear right-hand

  • THE SHOW MAN

    DAY AND NIGHT, KASPER KOENIG is on the move. You see him at openings, at art fairs, on panels. It sometimes seems that wherever anything’s happening in contemporary art, Koenig is there—looking into new trends, shaking hands with old friends, ferreting out new artists. It is difficult to come up with anyone better informed about the international art scene.

    Instead of pursuing a university degree, Koenig began his adult life at sea, working on a boat—a temporary diversion from his intellectual interests. After serving as an assistant on one of the Documenta exhibitions, he came to the U.S., and

  • Nobuyoshi Araki

    Whether they depict women as fully clothed, showing their breasts, or posing on sofas allowing the viewer to glimpse their vaginas, friends, or adolescent girls with innocent-looking faces, Nobuyoshi Araki’s photographs are sexual. This intense sexuality even characterizes his Tokyo cityscapes, the views of back courtyards, intersections, and landscapes with trees or cloudy skies.

    Though years ago Araki wanted to break sexual taboos with his work, he also wanted to provoke a confrontation with the officials charged with protecting public order, which he actually succeeded in doing several times.

  • Herbert Hamak

    Herbert Hamak steadfastly maintains that his colorful objects invading the space are paintings, paintings that despite their unusual depth are concerned with color—with its true value, intensity, radiation, and sensitivity to light. In order to allow the true nature of color to appear, Hamak developed a special technique. Rather than painting, he mixes natural pigments with a medium developed especially for him by a chemist, and then adds wax. In several layers, he pours this mixture into a frame, creating color fields that are several centimeters thick. He then lays this image on a canvas.