Just the Right Combination

Don’t let the title fool you, Franziska Holstein’s exhibit “Kombi” at Christian Ehrentraut goes beyond simply combining different colors and basic geometric forms – instead she effectively merges them to create new hybrid forms and visual representations. While her “combinations” consist of rather simple geometric shapes (jagged triangles and neat squares and rectangles), her methodological and extremely ordered arrangements are quite enticing and definitely visually appealing. Minimalist at first view, Holstein’s artwork is actually executed by rather deep and complex constructions.

Searching for spring…

It’s April already, the week before the long Easter weekend and I find myself wandering around Berlin wondering where the incipient spring actually went… a week and a half ago the sun was bright and beaming, and now I’ve reluctantly had to pull my winter coat back out. Very Berlin, I suppose. Looking for Easter postcards in Mitte was proving to be a bit more difficult as the weather and meek sky were hardly motivating, but stumbling into the abnormally bright Hinterhof where Galerie Christian Ehrentraut is hidden away re-invigorated my Easter excitement. An otherwise kitsch large-scale bright flower painted on the wall did just the trick.

Trial and error

Seeing Franziska Holstein’s neatly constructed artwork, you would hardly think they were a product of “trial and error.” But upon a closer look the rich, thick coats of paint – layers – shows the process of constructing the work, as a closer look shows how a new color was strategically placed over a completely different color in order to get the right combination. This is most evident in the artwork at the entrance with pastel colored oval shapes that funnily enough strikingly resemble an ensemble of freshly painted Easter eggs (clearly my mind is way too fixated on Easter).

The second group of artwork is really impressive and shows the range of the artist’s abilities. Stepping away from a palette of paint, the artist chops up photographs in jagged triangular pieces and reconstructs them, rendering the image unrecognizable. What becomes emphasized are the jigsaw pieces themselves – both the geometric shapes and the original object’s attributes, such as fluffy fur, bark, bristles. I found myself mesmerized trying to draw connections between the pictures and most importantly trying to decide what animal or thing is depicted. I decide on a fluffy cat and hedgehog.

Franziska Holstein- "untitled"

Jigsaw effects. Franziska Holstein, “untitled”, 2012. Galerie Christian Ehrentraut. Courtesy of Galerie Christian Ehrentraut.

Who needs titles?

In direct contrast to this kaleidoscopic maze of pictures, my eye settles on another group of artwork on a wall nearby. Here the artist’s skill and sense of order are especially highlighted. An entire wall is covered by a medley of 125 framed pictures with neat construction paper like cut-outs revolving around a strict pattern/color scheme. None of the artwork is titled, avoiding not only a second layer of meaning imposed on the artwork and the viewer, but allowing the viewer to appreciate the art for what it is.

Another of Holstein’s artistic treat awaits in the basement, so don’t miss out. Just as the recent short-lived spring came to an end, I desperately needed brightness and color in my life. Thanks to Holstein and Galerie Christian Ehrentraut, I found just what I was looking for.

  • Christian Ehrentraut Franziska Holstein – “Kombi” March 23rd – May 5th 2012. Tues – Sat: 11am – 6pm