Hoping to attract buyers of Art Basel-Bound, Berlin dealers showcased their emerging talents for the city’s fall edition of Galleries Weekend.
For Gallery Weekend Berlin, it seems the second time is the charm. This year, the event has decided to split into two separate events, in April and September, partly to elevate the galleries at a time of great uncertainty over the fair calendar, but also because its usual spring time slot has , for two years, coincided with significant sanitary restrictions in the city.
The weekend event is normally a time when out-of-town collectors stroll through the sprawling city galleries in event-sponsored BMWs. Over the years, merchants have tended to report high sales versus the low cost of hosting shows from the comfort of their own galleries.
And although this year has been markedly different, moods have remained high. Collectors from Europe – and at least one from China – walked through the city-wide event on their way to Art Basel, which opens today. The timing turned out to be a bit tight for German dealerships trying to get there early to set up in the Unlimited or Parcours sections of the show last weekend. As most of the merchants had to leave, attendees convinced Gallery Weekend to close on Sunday, a day earlier than originally planned.
Despite the odds, this week’s event had an air of triumph. Most of the 47 participating galleries followed the brief to present a so-called “discovery” position, ie younger or emerging artists (with lower prices, usually) and a penchant for experimentation.
Among the most thrilling presentations were artists based in Germany, including Brook Hsu, who showed moody green-hued paintings at Kraupa-Tuskany Zeidler. At Esther Schipper, newly represented Berlin artist Cemile Sahin considered her Kurdish migrant origin with a contemporary reflection on the Treaty of Sèvres, which redrawn the borders after World War I and deconstructed the Ottoman Empire (one of the works was purchased by the Bundeskunsthalle, the Federal Art Collection and the German Exhibition Space).
At Guido W. Baudach, the young German artist Jasmin Werner, considered the strange epic of the Palast der Republik, the former seat of the East German government destroyed to make way for the Humboldt Forum. (The remains of the building were sold to Dubai to be part of the Burj Khalifa.)
The Society gallery has chosen not to show a discovery in itself, but an artist long ignored in Europe, the Alabama-born painter Thornton Dial, who died in 2016. In collaboration with the artist’s estate, the David Lewis Gallery, and Souls Grown Deep Foundation, the gallery has managed to bring in half a dozen large sculptural canvases made up of materials from everyday life in America.
Overall, the city was in discovery mode: an election is underway, meaning that a whole new army of politicians will begin to shape the city’s fragile cultural landscape – and top positions in museums have come true. been filled last week, in particular by Klaus Biesenbach, who takes the reins of the Neue Nationalgalerie. In the meantime, the teetering city is on the brink of a precipice, blocked by a lack of space, be it homes, studios or gallery space.
See the images of the exhibitions below.
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