Abi Shek in THE BOX, Düsseldorf

Abi Shek. Without title. Woodcut with ink on canvas, 150 cm x 116 cm. Picture courtesy of Abi Shek.

THE BOX, a Gallery in Düsseldorf (see http://theboxduesseldorf.blogspot.de/), opened a new exhibition this evenig showing some works of Abi Shek. Not only do I like Abi’s art a lot, his family and my own are also connected by several ties of friendship, so it was a special pleasure for me to attend the opening of the exhibition. The author, essayist and poet Frank Schablewski, a friend of Abi, delivered an interesting opening address, providing his own interpretation of Abi Shek’s works.

A central topic of Abi’s work is animals. The works shown here are large woodcuts, really large compared to typical print sizes. They are printed with printer’s ink on stretched, gessoed, painting size canvases. In some cases, like in the example shown above, additional picture elements have been painted using blue-violet ink.

Abi’s works are abstracted to black, filled contours on white ground, reduced to two dimensions. They are partially inspired by living animals, partially by ancient cultures, especially pre-historic rock art. They hover on the border between abstract and figurative art, distilling the animals into archetypal shapes that evoke resonances of animal fables and emotional encounters with nature.

The exhibition also includes a number of small metal sheet sculptures, showing animals as well. These also start with two-dimensional contours cut out of the metal sheets, but regain the third dimension by bending the sheets. As a result, they inhabit a border area between the two-dimensional and the three-dimensional, between graphic art and sculpture. Abi Shek originally studied sculpture with Micha Ullman. These sculptures indicate how Abi’s graphic art is connected to his origins in three-dimensional art. In a way, his wooden printing blocks are sculptural as well, reliefs that are then used as printing blocks.

For more information on Abi Shek see http://www.abishek.de/.

THE BOX. Duisburger Str. 97, 40479 Düsseldorf, Germany.

May 2nd, 2014 to May 18th, 2014.

Opening times: Mo. 7 PM to 10 PM, Tue. 6 PM to 21 PM, Fr. 6 PM to 8 PM or uppon arrangement.


Hans Josephson in Ernst Barlach Haus, Hamburg

File:Berlin Josephson 30983.jpg

On Saturday I visited an exhibition of some works of Sculptor Hans Josephson in the Ernst Barlach Haus in Hamburg. I had seen some of Josephson’s sculptures in the Kolumba museum in Cologne before. So I was exited to learn that there was an exhibition in Hamburg in that particular museum.

Having grown up and gone to school in the vicinity of the Jenischpark in which that museum is situated, it was a special pleasure for me to visit both the park and the museum, especially since the weather was nice. And I did not regret going into this exhibition.

The picture above shows one of Josephson’s “Halbfiguren” (in Berlin – unfortunately I have no pictures from the Hamburg exhibition) but you have to see one yourself to see how great this art is. To capture the real beauty of these works on photograph, one would need a lot of pictures for each of them, including close ups and macro photos of the surface. Josephson used brass but left it unpolished, covered in a kind of patina just the way they came out of the casting mold. The surfaces of these sculptures are extremely varied and rich in shapes, textures and colors. He is actually the master of the surface, almost like a painter in 3D. While in most other sculptures, the main effect is in the overal shape and the concepts triggered by it, here it is the surface. You have to look at them from a short distance. Some of the sculptures and reliefs are still figurative, but some (like the one above) look just like rocks or boulders and figurative elements have nearly or completely disappeared from these works.

Pictures like the one above do not do justice to the richness and beauty of the irregular surface structures. This might be one of the reasons why Josephson is not so well known. His works do not look so spectacular from a distance or on a picture. But I am sure his fame will grow.

If you look at on of these “boulders” from a short distance and walk around them to study them from all sides, they throw you into a state before words. It is hard to describe these sculptures and their effect, so I will not try. This is something that words cannot capture. Just go there yourself and see them.

Josephson was born in Königsberg (today Kaliningrad) but spend most of his life in Switzerland and acquired the Swiss citizenship. Besides Alberto Giacometti, he is regarded as the second great Swiss sculptor. Giacometti might have been the more versatile artist, but for my personal taste, just as a sculptor Josephson is the greater one, although he is less famous.

(The picture is from http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Berlin_Josephson_30983.jpg.)

Bagatelle II


Today I was in Museum Küppersmühle in Duisburg to see the big ongoing K.O. Götz retrospective. This exhibition was previously shown in Berlin and will move to Wiesbaden in June (see http://www.museum-kueppersmuehle.de/ausstellungen/aktuelle-ausstellung-ko-goetz/).

This exhibition, the largest of several exhibitions currently showing works of this artist, is really worth a visit. Friends of abstract art can take advantage here of the fact that the artists celebrated his 100th birthday in March this year, resulting in a lot of exhibition activity (see http://www.xn--ko-gtz-zxa.de/pages/texte_filme/werkverzeichnis.html).

It pays off to visit Duisburg just to see this exhibition and it pays off to visit Germany just for this purpose! The permanent collection of the museum, including works of Gerhard Richter and K.R.H. Sonderborg, among others, is also worth a trip.
One of the paintings in this exhibition is “Bagatelle II”. A small photograph like the one above can only give a faint idea of how the original is looking. The original is 380 cm wide and 100 cm high, not a bagatelle at all. Photographs like this one can also not capture the very interesting textures and microstructures of some of the paintings.

Just go there and see them for yourself!

(The picture is from http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:BagatelleII.jpg).