After a Sunday stroll along Kreuzberg’s canal, photographing jazzy street art against a backdrop of frosted white and sky blue, I searched for the Kwadrat gallery. Hidden amongst 19th century buildings, just off the famous Oranienstrasse, the gallery is not immediately easy to spot. Kwadrat is located at the back of a courtyard behind a heavy set of iron gates. Initially thinking that the gallery must be closed, I tried the bell which resulted in the gates parting automatically. Entering the exhibition felt like stepping into the wardrobe leading to Narnia; a secret kept from the outside world.
Open to interpretation
Inside, gallerist Martin Kwade (Our video interview can be found: here), led me through the paintings which depict undefined moments in time, allowing the onlooker to guess at the finer details. In Die meiste Zeit for instance, the image could represent the beginning of a party where tickets are being bought, or 5am when revellers are on their way home. The uncertain nature of the images carries a dreamlike quality, providing only disconnected events that cannot clearly be recalled.
Immer alles – Wolfgang Lumair. Photo: Elizabeth Johnson, Courtesy of Kwadrat
The soft lines suggest a blurring of imagination and reality, in which neither is entirely distinct from the other. The colours and patterns however, are bold and at times reminiscent of Latin American artistic styles – hints that could become more pronounced in Lugmair’s work after his forthcoming extended trip to Mexico. Particularly effective is the ambience created in the annexed room containing only one painting of a sleeping girl. Lying in isolated quiet, it feels like stepping into the intimate setting of her bedroom.
Located in the heart of Kreuzberg, the area on and around Oranienstrasse has much to enjoy from top quality street art, to trendy cafes and restaurants. Highly recommended for a pre-gallery coffee or brunch is Bateau Ivre (Oranienstr. 18). Mexican diner, Santa Maria (Oranienstr. 170), tops the bill for a post-gallery dinner, offering a variety of classics from burritos to quesadillas, as well as happy hour margaritas. If you want to team your gallery visit with some street art viewings, be sure not to miss Jack Nicholson’s face from The Shining (corner of Oranienstr. and Marianenstr.), and the looming spaceman, painted high on a wall around the corner (Mariannenstr.). At the bottom of Oranienstr. by Gorlitzer Bahnhof you can also find the quirky Kjosk convenience store and cafe, situated in a white double-decker bus, parked in front of curious snack-stop Angry Chicken (watch out for the furious chicken!).
- Kwadrat, “Wer tanz mit wem woanders hin. Wolfgang Lugmair”, January 21th – February 24th 2012, Friday-Sunday 2pm – 7pm