Every city has its moment in history as an art utopia when artists from around the world emigrate. Paris was home for Hemingway and Picasso in the 20s, Pollock and Kerouac colonized New York City in the 50s and for the last few years the light has shown brightest for aesthetes in Berlin. Given this condition, artists, writers, curators, and gallerists have flocked to the city in large numbers; yet few have experienced this fast expansion more personally than Martin Kwade, the Polish/German director of KWADRAT who has exhibited here since starting his gallery in 2008. He sat down with BAPS writer James Shaeffer on a chilly December night to discuss this rapid change for Berlin’s art scene, as well how much his gallery has grown in the past year and what 2013 has in store.
Always At Work
Off the Kottbusser Tor stop in the bustling neighborhood of Kreuzberg, hundreds of people are walking up and down Oranienstraße in a frenzy to have fun on a cold Friday night. While most people here are sipping on beer and Glühwein Martin Kwade is busy at work. This is normal for Kwade, who insists on keeping gallery hours even through the holiday season when most are taking a winter break.
“I find that a lot of people stop by the gallery between Christmas and New Year’s because they have time,” he says to me in the brightly-lit exhibition space of KWADRAT. “I’ll be going to Hanover to visit my parents for Christmas day, but I’ll be back on the 27th to work again.” This is the hallmark of Kwade’s practice: a lot of selfless hard work for people who love art.