Ana Finel Honigman’s Top 10 Berlin Shows: April 2011

Berlin’s galleries are gearing up for Gallery Weekend on April 29 but Berliners need not wait for extraordinary shows throughout the city. Here are the best art events in early April.

André Butzer
12 March – 23 April 2011
Galerie Guido W. Baudach Charlottenburg
guidowbaudach.com

André Butzer defines his anti-naturalistic abstraction as: “self-coloured planar light.“ In this vein, his seven, new, untitled watercolors focus on assertive brightness and strong color. His powerful use of a traditionally light and delicate medium fortifies his passionate interest in color’s intensity. Geometry and forms are also important to Butzer but color fundamentally drives his purpose and infuses his art with its verve.

Per Billgren, Leigh Ledare
“Might Something Have Been Better than Nothing…”
12 March – 23 April 2011
reception-berlin.de

On a purely personal level, few artists’ work moves and fascinates me like Leigh Ledare. His portraits of himself and his bewitching mother are unsettling and intimate. They challenge conventional assumptions about love, loyalty and interconnectivity. His pairing with fellow Columbia MFA graduate Per Billgren, for their joint show “Might Something Have Been Better than Nothing…” produces another touching rumination on objectivity, truth in art and art’s ability to override perimeters between people.

Luca Trevisani: Interval Training
12 March – 23 April 201
Mehdi Chouakri
mehdi-chouakri.de

Luca Trevisani’s delicate sculptures, abstract drawings and experimental films explore the philosophical implications of metamorphosis, equilibrium, fragility and the passage of time. The Italian artist’s second exhibition centers on an installation of bundled bananas hanging from the ceiling and balancing a functional film projector a few feet above the gallery floor. He describes this work as, “Getting in contact with Floating Bananas is entering into an event of relations. It’s about composing relationships; it’s about energies, but energies without qualities. Pure energies. Stages of vagueness, of definition, of realities opened to the flow, to our own determination through change.”

Carmen Herrera
18 March – 16 April 2011
Arratia, Beer
arratiabeer.com

Cuban artist Carmen Herrera has been producing intelligent and compelling abstract paintings since the 1930s. Although she has not received the true credit that she deserves, her work strongly influenced her illustrious social circle, which included Josef Albers, Jean Arp, Barnett Newman and Sonia Delaunay. During her decades living in Paris and New York, Herrera remained unsung and only sold her first painting at age 89. However, this comprehensive and captivating exhibition demonstrates why artists were inspired by Herrera and keeps her historical neglect a distressing mystery.

Johannes Wald
18 March – 24 April 2011
Konrad Fischer Galerie
konradfischergalerie.de

The relationship between form and content is explored in Johannes Wald’s new series of sculptures. The works’ creation inspires its meaning since Wald sees symbolic potential in the casting process of his bronze sculptures in local foundries. Wald’s wit lightens the mood with sarcastically ponderous titles to his abstract sculptures, such as presentiment, notion, agglomeration, reconsideration, doubt, confidence and devotion cast in bronze.” And, “Pedestal for a Muse” invites the viewer to imagine their ideal muse sitting on Wald’s empty couch.

Özlem Altin: Several bodies
26 March–23 April 2011
Circus
circusberlin.de

Özlem Altin’s densely assembled collages combine images cherry-picked from disparate sources. They are rich collections of references alluding to bodies in states of flux, exhaustion, passivity and confusion. These conditions are often neglected or denied in our hyper-focused and driven era. The young German artist focuses her attention on “identity, aboulomania (‘Willenlosigkeit’), action and non-action.” The effects of these powerful collages draw insights into the moments between movements.

Monique van Genderen: The Gentle Art of Making Enemies
26 March – 21 April 2011
Galerie Michael Janssen
galeriemichaeljanssen.de

Juicy, lively color and energetic forms dominate Monique van Genderen’s thrilling abstract paintings. While her canvases all measure at a uniform 6’ x 4’, her colors are loud and unexpected. The L.A-based Canadian artist brings her adopted city’s buoyancy and brightness to her canvases, yet her underlining inspiration adds bite. The Her current solo show, “The Gentle Art of Making Enemies” takes its title from James Abbot McNeill Whistler’s 1892 account of his legal and personal battle with John Ruskin over the validity of abstract art. History sides with Whistler and van Genderen demonstrates how gracefully good abstract art can befriend a viewer.

Laura Bruce: Wippersnapper neue Arbeiten
26 March – 07 May 2011
Galerie Fahnemann
galerie-fahnemann.de

Laura Bruce’s intricate abstract landscape drawings combine recognizable natural references with surprising surrealist touches. After producing a massive range of paintings, sculptures, videos and performances during her seventeen years as an ex-pat living in Berlin, Bruce recently started referencing her native suburban American context with her uncanny black-and-white graphite drawings. Her work explores the wild beauty of New Jersey’s greenery and the uncanny connotations of its artificiality. She even regularly burns sections of her paper, adding to the unsettling Gothic sensibility of her ornate art.

Glenn Brown
8 April – 28 May 2011
Galerie Max Hetzler
maxhetzler.com

Glenn Brown highlights the subjectivity of art viewing but appropriating imagery from art history and rendering it otherworld with trompe l’oeil and a psychedelic palette. The revered British painter has re-envisioned work by Rembrandt or Salvador Dalí as if touched by extraterrestrial gases. His use of nonsensical and clashing colors adds humor and a hint of creepiness to his references.

Bonnie Camplin
20 April – 11 June 2011
Galerie Cinzia Friedlaender
galeriefriedlaender.de

Bonnie Camplin’s admiration for the potent symbolism of camp horror film is expressed through her dreamy collaged videos, drawings, animation and pastiches. The British artist picks apart or awkward gaps between consciousness and subconscious urges. Her work is odd yet playful. The darkness in her references is embraced and her off-kilter sensibility infuses her work with a wondrous weirdness.

About the author

Ana Finel Honigman
ANA FINEL HONIGMAN is a Berlin-based critic and curator. She writes on contemporary art and fashion for publications including Artforum.com, Sleek, Interview.com, V, TANK, Art in America, Artnet.com, Art Journal, Whitewall, Dazed & Confused and British Vogue. As a Senior Correspondent for Saatchi Online's magazine, Ana contributes exhibition reviews from Berlin, among other things. Contact her at: http://www.anafinelhonigman.com/

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