Yes, the rumors are true: Mustafa’s Gemüsekebab at the Mehringdamm U-Bahn stop has the tastiest döners in all Berlin (komplett mit scharf bitte!), and Viktoriapark also offers beautiful scenery for an evening stroll—but did you know that the surrounding area also nestles some of the most exciting art galleries in Kreuzberg?
Today we take a visit to Mehringdamm number 72 (literally), the versatile L’Atelier—kunst(spiel)raum, a Circus amidst the rubble, the passionate Thore Krietemeyer with his collection and Moeller Fine Art, comfortably situated in the Belle Epoque Palais Eger. So grab your döner and pack some bubblegum—you’d want to avoid having döner-breath as the friendly gallerists we’re about to meet appreciate a good conversation. Let’s be on our way!
Locating our fist gallery is simple: head down Mehringdamm Straße and look for number 72 (corner of Kreuzbergstraße). Don’t let the literal and simple name of MD72 fool you; the space is known for presenting international rising stars. We’ve recently had the pleasure of visiting one of their recent shows by American artist David Adamo, which proved to us that things are not always what they look like! On this visit, however, their walls were empty as they prepared the next surprise for Berlin’s art scene.
“I believe artists should receive carte blanche!” says Stefania Angelini (R). Photo: Chris Phillips
Just two blocks away on Großbeerenstraße (right in front of Viktoriapark) you’ll find another gem, L’Atelier kunst(spiel)raum. As such a name would suggest, this space is a unique concoction where art, play and community are co-created. Founded by Stefania Angelini in 2011, this flexible cocktail of creativity keeps an annual versatile program featuring international artists, guest curators, workshops, works in progress, and even maintains artist residencies.
On this occasion we found the team setting up their upcoming exhibition, “We’ve outsourced everything and now we’re bored,” a project developed by artists Clémence de La Tour Dupin with John Henry Newton and curated by Judith Lavagna. We heard about this show back in January when Clémence shared it was one of her New Year’s resolutions. We weren’t allowed to take pictures of the art in question, as expected when a work is not in its intended state of presentation, but I did overhear Stefania claim, “I believe artists should receive carte blanche!” So we’ll have to wait until this Saturday when the show opens to see what these creatives have been concocting.
Chris Phillips finding balance in the work of Fredrik Værslev at Circus. Photo: Jovanny V. Ferreyra
Just two blocks north we find a true diamond in the rough: Circus gallery. This unique space is found in the middle of an unassuming lot surrounded by the grease and grit of auto-repair shops. With the style of a rose growing on concrete, its director shared with BAPs that, “We feel privileged to work in this surrounding of ‘reality bites’ and total seclusion.” Coincidentally, the artwork presently on view seems to unwittingly reflect this condition: behind foggy panels that have been smeared with oil, there’s a light that shines through (see image above). These are the works of Fredrik Værslev and form part of the current exhibition, “The World is Your Oyster.” Before leaving Mehringdamm, don’t forget to check out this pearl.
Director Thore Krietemeyer gives BAPs the history of his gallery. Photo: Chris Phillips
Just a block away, back on Großbeerenstraße, we find Galerie Thore Krietemeyer, where its passionate director, Thore, greeted us. He shared with us the story of the humble beginnings of this space, which he acquired and remodeled only six months ago. First a winery, then a bookstore, now the space houses the work of contemporary artists Thore admires and befriended throughout his fifteen years of involvement in the gallery business. Currently on display are two exhibitions that he excitedly spoke to us about–The creations of Olaf Bastigkeit and Gemma Anderson. With hearing aids evident on his ears, Thore proudly states, “I’m deaf, but with these works I hear letters and languages.” It was a touching and refreshing moment to encounter a director so in tune with the work he displays.
Gallerina Sophie Ostman von der Leye recounting the history of Moeller Fine Art. Photo: Chris Phillips
And finally, just a few more steps north by the river, we end up at Moeller Fine Art. Enter and feast your eyes as this gallery’s appearance compares to that of a museum! And understandably so, as it is located on the Belle Epoque Palais Eger designed by architects Gustav Knoblauch & Hermann Wex, commissioned by Carl and Paul Eger in 1881. Directed now by Stephanie R. Moeller and with a sister gallery in New York, this grandiose space prides itself in its roster of international mid-career and emerging artists.
If you’re lucky, as we were, you’ll be greeted by the lovely gallerina Sophie, who’s charm broke the stoic and somewhat intimidating character of the architecture into an enjoyable exploration of the artwork on display. Presently, the exhibition “Father & Son: Lyonel and T. Lux Feininger” explores an endearing father/son relationship in the traces left by the artwork of the two. You’re in for a treat of paintings, watercolors, drawings, woodcuts, and wooden toy locomotives!
Although this concludes our stroll through some of the most exciting galleries in Mehringdamm, don’t forget to check out our other popular tours through Karl-Marx-Allee, Auguststraße, Skalitzerstraße, Kurfürstenstraße and Neukölln!
Article by Jovanny Varela-Ferreyra