empathy

I Come In Pieces

On yet another cold wintery day, the Kreuzberg artist residency Künstlerhaus Bethanian opened its doors a group show featuring the works of five artists-in-residence. Per usual, Bethanian gives its residents a month to show off the work that they have been creating while buried away in their magnificent studios. The artists shown were Australian Gerry Bibby, Singaporean Michael Lee, Belgian Marie Zolamian, Danish Jasper Sebastian Stürup and Japanese artist Erina Matsui. I was accustomed to the spectacles that Bethanian’s shows could be since they give their residents an amazing exhibition space on top of an impressive budget. Last month, for instance, I interviewed Aiko Tezuka to learn about her large and flamboyant fabric pieces that hung in their galleries. Despite my familiarity with the space, I could not have been prepared for the surreal installation in their latest exhibiton.

All Of Berlin Shuffles In

It always feels like the entirety of Berlin's art scene is attempting to cram itself into one building on the opening nights at Künstlerhaus Bethanian. As the shows bring in hundreds of visitors at a given opening, it’s helpful that the space not only has one of Berlin's larger exhibition spaces but also a healthy stock of beer for the thirsty guests. As I arrived I managed to squeeze through the bustling crowd and enter the warm and welcoming space. Although it was packed, I still felt there was room to breathe and honestly look at the works on exhibit. I grabbed a drink and a gallery guide and set out to see what the residency had churned out this time.

309247_10152639675075217_720002725_nDanish artist Michael Lee's haunting blue prints. Photo: Chris Phillips

 

In the main entrance Marie Zolamian had installed several framed watercolors and drawings. Performance artist Gerry Bibby used his slot to create a small pavilion for other artists' work; some of those whom he decided to “represent” were former collaborative partners of the artist, such as Sean McNanney. Michael Lee installed large blue prints of buildings that are now abandoned and have been left to rot as skeletons of their former architectural glory. Jasper Sebastian Stürup exhibited several paintings, sculptures and other new works both on the wall and placed delicately on strange pink plinths. Back downstairs, the artist Erina Matsui had installed something you would expect to see in a theme park or a nightmare.

225403_10152639675700217_765709297_nThe very large and very bizarre work of Matsui. Photo: Chris Philips

Often finding inspiration for her paintings from her own reflection, Matsui’s body of work is dominated by self-portraits. Here she had replaced a woodsy walking path with an elongated and distorted depiction of her face.  Presented in the foreground of this work was a large stage that gave the illusion that the painting was slowly bleeding into reality. In the surroundings was the creepiest yet most charming element of her installation: Matsui showcased two large pink and bulbous characters that would have left children under the age of nine running home screaming. I, however, found them charming and was delighted to see them shown along with what was a rather quiet show. My recommendation for your visit: save this work for dessert––it will be sure to give you paranormal dreams.

  • Künstlerhaus Bethanian – Group exhibition – Until Marh 24th, 2013 – Tue – Sun: 2pm – 7pm [Free to visit BAPS price €2,000 – €40,000]

Article by James Shaeffer