Berlin Art Week's Distinctive Feel September 2016 By Ben Austin
Ok, so it isn’t Basel, or even Frieze for that matter, but ABC provides something a bit different from the mega fairs, on a smaller scale and dedicated solo presentation, the vast majority of the galleries are German and they all have that distinctive feel, of being clinical and exact in presentation and execution, perhaps that stereotype of German efficiency rings true.
The stand out booths to my mind included the wall mounted wooden guns fabricated from found objects by André Robillard represented by Delmes & Zander, these guns are child-like in construction and invite the viewer to consider the dynamic between play and real world war.
Another powerful presentation was by the Scottish artist Scott Myles (Meyer Riegger), whose bleak, blackened and burnt out bus shelter appears in the middle of the fair half melted like some brutal post-apocalypse vision.
Other artists of note include Florain Baudrexel showing with Linn Lühn, whose constructionists cardboard wall mounted sculptures are dynamic and vital.
I also enjoyed the work of Dirk Lange (Galerie Michael Haas), surreal and strange figuration, possessing mythological narrative, painted at times with incredible detail.
We had metallic installation, with solid blocks playing off flat upright sheets based in rough gravel by Madeleine Dietz (Galerie Georg Notheifer), which was very effective. (See top photo)
I must give a special mention to Macel Dzama showing with Sies + Höke, I have always adored his work and the selection of pieces on offer here did not disappoint, fantastical and bizarre figures appears in a quasi-religious ritual or some kind of high society mask party. Dzama works in a multiple of disciplines including here wooden sculptures, full of fancy and enchanted spirit.
Dzama is known for his connection with The Royal Art Lodge in Canada and now has an international reputation and his work is in the collection of major museums and public institutions. To my mind, Dzama is the most significant artist to be showing at ABC.
Another important artist is Kenny Scharf showing here with Galerie Hansmayer, I have never been a huge fan of his work but recognise that he is serious collected and respect the gestural mark making.
The lurid plastic fantastic wall-mounted sculptures by Berta Fischer (Galerie Karin Guenther) were bold, bright and boundless.
One of most impressive installation booth was by the British artist – Andrew Gilbert (Sperling) who satirically interprets the history of European colonialism, creating a weird hybrid of symbols of the British Empire, figures in imagery military uniforms adorned with clichés of the conquered natives. As a whole assemblage of masks, motifs, re-worked fruit makes the whole piece disturbing yet comical, in its weird construction and odd narrative.
Berlin Art Week to me is more about the gallery shows rather than a mass of fairs, there is another fair called Position which I will report back on, but the whole of Berlin is alive is one opening after another...