Chairman


Boys!

“I can’t just slice off an ear everyday, make a Van Gogh here, a Mozart there.  And anyway, it’s hard enough constantly keeping track of what you’re actually doing!”
Kippenberger is so quoted in the exhibition titled ‘The Cult of the Artist’ at the Hamburger Bahnhoff in Berlin.

Last weekend I saw three very good shows in Berlin.  Two were at the New National Gallery which in itself is a feast for the eye.  The gallery was designed by architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and built in the late sixties.  All four outer walls of the gallery are glass and the thick roof that juts out over the glass walls is steel.  The materiality of steel is highlighted through its weight and glass through its fragility as the heavy roof lingers on top of the tall glass walls of the gallery.  It is a beautiful building with a vast interior that makes the art that is on display all the more enjoyable to view.

The exhibition I saw at the Gallery was of work by Jeff Koons.  The series of work titled ‘Celebration’ comprised of realistic bigger than life-size sculptures of party stuff and toys like balloons, ornaments and a ‘plastic’ cat all made of chromium stainless steel painted in transparent color coating.  Needless to say the clever tension between hard and heavy steel bodies of the sculptures and the lightness of the objects they represented was obvious and the sculptures were beautiful but what made the show exciting for me was the dialogue between the Gallery and the sculptures.  It was as if the artist’s steel fetish echoed off the steel of the ceiling.  Similarly the glass of the Gallery which let the light and the views in and the mirror-like finish of the sculptures that reflected the cityscape outside collaborated with each other.  In my view the Koons’ sculptures and the Gallery were in perfect harmony.  One could see the bright colours of the sculptures behind the glass from afar and it did indeed look like a celebration.  I can’t help but think the space in which the sculptures were exhibited changed the sculptures or rather ‘made’ the sculptures what they really are.  What a great venue to show the Koons sculptures!

Downstairs in the Gallery, in a completely different setting underground with artificial lighting, was the Paul Klee exhibition titled ‘The Klee Universe’.  The exhibition was indeed a universe of Klee’s paintings hung in fourteen different rooms.  When I think about it my introduction to Klee was through a book my mom had in her library.  I vaguely remember flipping through the monograph on the floor when I was a young kid.  It is amazing how the memory of an object, like this book, recreates in my head the very environment I held this book.  I can almost smell of the carpet I am lying on and even feel my elbows hurting from rubbing against it.  I hadn’t thought much about Klee until last year my friend Ryo showed me a book by Klee using drawing as a means for child pedagogy.  Ryo and I were working on a collaborative drawing project at the time.  And now ‘The Klee Universe’ at the Neue Nationalgalerie…  Frankly I didn’t know of the Klee exhibtion when I went to see the architecture of the gallery.  Am I being reminded of Klee by my muses.  At a time when I ‘sort of’ feel insecure about the size of my… paintings I submerge myself into a sea of beautifully painted Klees almost only on small canvases.  These paintings are all different.  In fact they are so very different from one another yet I don’t question their ‘Klee-n-li-ness.’  His sense of composition and use of colour inspires me.  They are mostly bright and ‘happy’ colours.  These paintings seem very lighthearted yet they are seriously clever.  What a f…king liberty!

The third exhibition I saw was a mega retrospective of Joseph Beuys  (i.e., Boys.  Get it?)  I am simply amazed by the energy of this man.  Perhaps I am even more amazed by his ability to stay tuned into his creative zone for so long.  In fact he must have stayed in that zone for a lifetime to be able to experiment and create so much.  I am jealous!  By no means was Beuys a hermit but what I feel like doing right now is to lock myself up in my studio; leave everything and everybody behind and get into some sort of a trans and create till I drop dead.  I feel only then I might become a great artist.  So I love Beuys!  I love him even more after seeing hundreds of his drawings in a large hallway upstairs at the Hamburger Bahnoff.  Beuys’ drawings on found pieces of paper, some wrinkled, some stained, some folded, ripped, others folded were ingenious and delightful.  So simple yet so considered!  I don’t remember feeling this inspired, energized and hopeful in a long time.

All in all my visit to Berlin turned out to be a great success.  Oh, and I had my share of fun as well.

Boys will be boys, right?