Critics’ Picks

View of “The Disenchantment of the Bourgeoisie.”

Berlin

Anton Unai

Circle Culture
Gipsstraße 11
May 29 - July 11

Unlike many of the artists who show at Circleculture’s Urban Fine Arts gallery, Anton Unai doesn’t present or replicate in the gallery work that he made on the street. Instead, the London-born, Berlin-based artist exhibits work created from paper ephemera that he salvaged from the street. He combines these scraps and paints his own expressionistic marks on them, building up installations, canvases, and multiple layers of wallpaper.

In “The Disenchantment of the Bourgeoisie,” Unai’s fourth Berlin exhibition, framed collages are hung on, and blend seamlessly with, a wall painted with a mural, the various discrete works forming one continuous pattern. Photographs Unai snapped of beautiful Berliners posing in their underpants and wheat-paste-poster advertisements, many of which have a retro, Weimar-era aesthetic, are affixed to the walls and then splashed with paint. Unai also uses rusty sheet metal and discarded newspapers as canvases on which to pay homage to or directly reference literary figures, African iconography, and artists including Jean-Michel Basquiat, Jonathan Meese, and George Dunning in his Yellow Submarine days. He has also built a “wheel of fortune” against the gallery wall, inviting viewers to take a spin from behind a barrier of hay, streamers, papier-mâché masks, and twinkling lights. The prophetic messages are cryptic but jolly, and the atmosphere’s chaotic, carnivalesque quality infuses the gallery with Unai’s playfully dadaist and freewheeling sensibility. As for shocking the bourgeoisie, Unai’s art might offend, say, an obsessive-compulsive housewife, but it will charm laid-back viewers from all social strata.