Top 10 Must-Experience Exhibitions During Berlin Art Week 2023
Top 10 Must-Experience Exhibitions During Berlin Art Week 2023
erlin Art Week always promises fresh and innovative experiences within the vibrant art scene of the German capital. True to form, this year's offerings epitomize the city's penchant for multidisciplinary, experimental, and collaborative art. Notable highlights include the grand opening of Fotografiska Berlin, featuring captivating solo exhibitions by multimedia artists Juliana Huxtable and Candice Breitz, as well as a sprawling showcase at the former power station Kraftwerk, which forms part of the boundary-pushing Atonal music festival, presenting works by Mire Lee and Valie Export.
Adding to the excitement, this year marks the 10th edition of Berlin’s largest art fair, Positions, held in the massive former airport hangars at Tempelhof. Visitors can look forward to a diverse array of art from German galleries, including renowned names like Galerie Melbye-Konan from Hamburg and local gems like Weserhalle in Berlin-Neukölln, both highlighting the cream of their gallery programs.
Further north, a collaboration between Berlin’s cultural institutions and galleries has given rise to “Hallen,” a two-weekend event series at Wilhem Hallen. This coincides with the second weekend of Berlin Art Week and promises a mix of talks, performances, and curated collective events. Galleries are taking the opportunity to showcase large-scale works, such as John Armleder’s mesmerizing LED sculpture and Anne Duk Hee Jordan’s captivating 13-meter-long inflatable installation.
Adding to the diversity of events, Berlin Art Week introduces a new “festival” format for galleries, thanks to the organizers of the city’s Gallery Weekend, known as Studio Mondial. In a former hotel on Kurfürstendamm, 47 galleries, including heavyweights like Peres Projects and Galerie EIGEN + ART, will create an immersive experience by staging performances, readings, and exhibitions during the weekend of September 16th through 17th. These events will often complement the presentations in their own gallery spaces.
Simultaneously, many galleries are seizing the opportunity to showcase the highlights of their program throughout September. Here are the standout gallery exhibitions you won’t want to miss during Berlin Art Week.
Lap-See Lam's "Tales of the Altersea (Prologue)" at Galerie Nordenhake" (September 15th - October 28th)
Lap-See Lam, a prominent artist featured in The Artsy Vanguard 2021, has embarked on a fascinating journey over the past few years, employing 3D scanning techniques to capture Chinese restaurants in Western settings. These scans result in images marked by mesmerizing glitches, serving as a poignant symbol of the intergenerational loss of knowledge. This theme holds a personal resonance for Lam, as her own family recently had to part with her grandmother’s restaurant, which had been a cherished establishment since the 1970s.
During Berlin Art Week, Galerie Nordenhake, a steadfast supporter of Lam since her MFA studies at Stockholm’s Royal Institute of Art, will showcase versions of the artist’s narrative installations previously exhibited at prestigious venues like The Swiss Institute in New York and Portikus in Frankfurt. “Tales of the Altersea (Prologue)” offers a compelling VR experience titled “Phantom Bouquet” (2019–20), delving into the intricate transfer of intergenerational knowledge. Throughout the exhibition, haunting kinetic sculptures come to life, employing neon, brass, and shadow play to evoke the central theme of the show: “Sea Palace,” a three-story restaurant-ship that made a remarkable journey from China to Europe in the 1990s.
This exhibition serves as a prelude to Lap-See Lam’s representation of the Nordic nations at the 2024 Venice Biennale, where she will collaborate with two other artists to present a multifaceted, multidisciplinary work.
Bettina Pousttchi's 'In Transit' at Buchmann Galerie (September 2nd - October 28th)
Ragen Moss Unveils 'C O N S P I R E' at Capitain Petzel (September 15th - October 21st)
Ragen Moss, a rising star following her breakout debut at the 2019 Whitney Biennial, invites you into her artistic realm at Capitain Petzel. Moss’s artistry takes shape through suspended, pod-like sculptures crafted primarily from transparent acrylic, polyethylene, aluminum, and steel, often presented in captivating series. These ethereal yet robust forms are adorned with intricate patterns, shapes, and occasionally concise phrases that elicit immediate reactions. A striking example from the Whitney Biennial, “Romanettes (with double Hearts)” (2018), featured the handwritten words “tonight” and “tomorrow” flanking circadian time within a mottled, biomorphic structure.
In this expansive exhibition spanning all three floors of Capitain Petzel, Moss introduces brand-new creations. Each masterpiece incorporates a suspended “lumen,” akin to a flickering flame ensconced within a transparent and metallic enclosure. As the evening descends, these lumens come to life, casting a mesmerizing glow and adding an immersive dimension to Moss’s innovative artworks.
Asta Gröting and Ming Wong Present 'Fortune' at carlier | gebauer (September 16th - November 18th)
Berlin, renowned as an artistic sanctuary, faces the challenge of increasingly scarce spaces for artists to manifest their visions. Wong, hailing from Singapore and celebrated for his performances and video art, and Gröting, whose artistic focus revolves around the concept of absence, navigate this terrain through the lens of two distinct films. Adopting an idiosyncratic and investigative approach towards the often-explored subject of the artist’s studio, one film intriguingly features a 3D-printed rendition of Gröting’s own creative workspace. Within the gallery itself, expect a metamorphosis guided by vibrant scenography, intimately responsive to the ever-shifting material landscape that defines Berlin’s artistic production environment. “Fortune” promises to be a thought-provoking exploration of artistic evolution and the city’s dynamic artistic pulse.
Anicka Yi Presents 'A Shimmer Through The Quantum Foam' at Esther Schipper (September 15th - October 21st)
Anicka Yi, the conceptual artist known for her thought-provoking exploration of the intersections between machines, other species, and human interaction, follows up her 2021 Tate Modern commission, “In Love With the World.” In that project, she ingeniously programmed cephalopodic robots using machine learning to engage with visitors. Now, her latest endeavor introduces a captivating series of horizontal paintings that venture closer to figuration compared to her previous painting works. Here, Yi’s artistic process lays bare the materials, with cells, algae, and other biological matter subtly manifesting within her creations.
Simultaneously, a fresh collection of pod sculptures takes center stage, crafted from silicon, optical fibers, and various materials, reminiscent of her critically acclaimed kelp-inspired versions showcased at the Venice Biennale in 2019. And, in keeping with her signature style, Anicka Yi integrates a sensory component into her exhibition. For “A Shimmer Through The Quantum Foam,” she collaborates with French perfumer Barnabé Fillion to craft a bespoke scent inspired by the thematic essence of the show, ensuring a multi-sensory experience that transcends the boundaries of traditional artistry.
Beatriz Milhazes Unveils 'Paisagem em Desfile' at Galerie Max Hetzler (September 15th - October 28th)
Beatriz Milhazes, celebrated as one of Brazil’s foremost artists and a prominent advocate of contemporary chromatic abstraction, returns to Berlin for her fifth solo exhibition. With “Paisagem em Desfile,” Milhazes introduces an entirely fresh body of work, each piece meticulously crafted through her unique artistic method known as “chromatic free geometry.” Central to this process is her distinctive “monotransfer” technique, wherein motifs and patterns are painstakingly painted individually onto transparent plastic before being transferred onto the canvas.
Rooted deeply in the exuberant and spirited traditions of her hometown, Rio de Janeiro, where she both resides and creates, Milhazes embarks on a more figurative journey in her latest creations. Paintings such as “O desfile de leques I (Fan parade I)” (2023) and “O Arlequim (The Harlequin)” (2021–22) pulsate with the vibrant colors and dynamic rhythms synonymous with the iconic Rio Carnival. Meanwhile, works like “Inteligência das Estrelas (Intelligence of the Stars)” (2022) mirror Milhazes’s profound connection with the natural world that envelops her, a recurring theme evident in the organic vitality that permeates her art. “Paisagem em Desfile” promises to be a captivating celebration of Milhazes’s artistic evolution and her ongoing dialogue with the vivacious spirit of Rio de Janeiro.
Eckart Hahn Presents 'Hart wie Schein' at Galerie Crone (September 16th - November 4th)
Photorealistic art is experiencing a resurgence, and Eckart Hahn’s surreal and shape-shifting canvases undeniably embrace this trend. Within his artworks, one encounters peculiar and enigmatic encounters between different species—vividly hued pigs, primates, or birds converging in imagined, shadowy realms. Hahn’s creations evoke the eerie emptiness reminiscent of 3D virtual worlds. Take, for instance, “Offer” (2023), where a human hand stretches out from beneath the concealed feathers of an eagle, extending a tiny blue seed to a mouse. The eagle’s visage remains shrouded, leaving observers to ponder its intentions. “Hart wie Schein” (loosely translated as “Tough as it looks”) unravels a series of paintings that revel in this ambiguity, weaving absurd and humorous narratives.
While Eckart Hahn, a German painter, has been exclusively dedicated to painting since 1998, having initially pursued studies in photography and graphic design in Stuttgart and Tübingen, this marks his inaugural solo exhibition at Galerie Crone in Berlin. His artistic journey has led to previous solo showcases in renowned German institutions such as the Kunstpalais Erlangen and Mannheim Kunstverein. “Hart wie Schein” promises to be a mesmerizing exploration of his unique and thought-provoking artistic perspective.
Bernd and Hilla Becher's Pioneering Photography at Sprüth Magers (September 16th - November 11th)
Bernd and Hilla Becher, the influential photographic duo, left an indelible mark on 20th-century photography by skillfully blurring the boundaries between documentation and artistry. Through their systematic monochrome photographs, they meticulously captured the architectural essence of industry, employing a methodical and unwavering approach. Their distinctive style involved isolating buildings of the same type, such as water towers, and presenting them in organized, grid-like series.
Influenced by the 1920s German concept of objectivity in art, this married couple allowed the structures they photographed to speak for themselves. Their exhibitions possessed a rhythmic and formal structure more commonly associated with sculpture (a medium for which they received acclaim at the Venice Biennale in 1990). At Sprüth Magers, two gallery rooms are dedicated to an exploration of the Bechers’ historic series, ranging from grain elevators in the United States, France, and Germany to coal mine tipples in various industrial landscapes.
Though Bernd and Hilla Becher passed away in 2007 and 2015, respectively, their enduring legacy lives on. They were recently honored with a traveling exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and this exhibition at Sprüth Magers serves to further solidify their status as trailblazers in the realm of serial image creation.
Peter Friedl Explores 'Teatro Popular' at KOW (September 16th - November 4th)
Austrian artist Peter Friedl delves into the captivating theater of history, unraveling how narratives are crafted and molded over time, often by unseen hands. Following his monographic exhibition at Berlin’s KW Institute just last year, Friedl now takes center stage with his debut solo exhibition at KOW. Here, he presents a curated selection of his past works, largely centered around historical figures who have slipped through the crevices of conventional historical accounts. Among these remarkable characters are Anne Bonny, the notorious female pirate; Rafael Padilla, an Afro-Cuban clown who gained fame as “Chocolat” in the early 20th century; and Calouste Gulbenkian, the Armenian art collector and oil magnate.
Friedl brings this eclectic ensemble to life through sculptural installations. For instance, the eponymous artwork of the exhibition transforms these chosen protagonists into glove puppets, a striking representation of his artistic vision. Among his latest creations is “Everyone is a conspiracy theorist” (2023), crafted specifically for this exhibition. It takes the form of a meticulously detailed model reconstruction of the shack featured in Charlie Chaplin’s classic film, “The Gold Rush” (1925). Positioned precariously on a wedge-shaped platform, this construction prompts reflection on the concept of authentic reproductions across the realms of film, art, and, perhaps, life itself. “Teatro Popular” promises to be a thought-provoking exploration of history’s hidden narratives and the intricate web of storytelling.
José Yaque Unleashes 'Eruption' at Bode (September 7th - October 8th)
José Yaque’s inaugural solo exhibition at Bode represents the culmination of a nearly decade-long artistic odyssey, immersing himself in the captivating world of mineral colors and their formal attributes. This compelling exhibition showcases a series of abstract paintings adorned with undulating patterns inspired by the wonders of natural phenomena. In these remarkable artworks, akin to his broader artistic practice, Yaque meticulously applies pigments by hand. Subsequently, he envelops his canvases in plastic sheeting, employing this plastic layer to create wave-like motifs that evoke the strata found in geological formations. The colors appear to cascade and dissolve across the canvas, serving as a profound metaphor for the processes of erosion and the innate volatility of the Earth’s subterranean energies.
Within these layered paintings, viewers discern traces of Yaque’s deep exploration into the origins of pigment, underscoring his profound connection with the visceral and transformative qualities inherent in his chosen artistic medium. In this dynamic interplay, Yaque invites us to contemplate the ever-evolving nature of our planet, where the Earth’s constant flux and transformation are captured in each brushstroke and layer of pigment. “Eruption” promises to be an immersive journey into the mesmerizing world of minerals and the raw, volatile essence of our natural world.