We have the month’s art fix covered, with minimalist painting, a rare exhibition from a living legend and video art to make you squirm.
Pauline Curnier: Fat to Ashes
Bloody intestines, drumming, wailing women and tacky symbols of faith: Pauline Curnier Jardin’s Fat to Ashes captures the hedonism and hidden violence of rituals and religious ceremonies. The film splices together footage from Cologne Carnival with a festival honouring Saint Agatha, the patron saint of rape victims. Frantic editing, close-ups and impossibly epic music build to an intense finale, ending in the squalid catharsis of a sacrificed pig and its draining blood.
Throughout the 21-minute film, Curnier Jardin, who won the Preis der Nationalgalerie in 2019, feeds us a heady mixture of joy and repulsion as we’re jostled along. Projected inside a surreal melting arena, the work is flanked by the installation ‘Feel Good’, a selection of drawings made by sex workers – abandoned during the pandemic – with its own soundtrack of cars and clicking stilettos. In both works, the abuses and exploitation of the female body baked into Westernised ceremonies are salvaged from ritualistic deconstruction.
Through Sep 9, Hamburger Bahnhof, Mitte
Tadaaki Kuwayama: TK2130-5/8-19
Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s minimalist L-shaped house is the perfect setting for the neutral, inscrutable works of Japanese-American painter Tadaaki Kuwayama. The light-filled space on the banks of Lichtenberg’s Obersee was the last building Mies van der Rohe built in Germany before fleeing to the US to escape the Nazis. Combined with the detached presence of Kuwayama’s painted objects, visiting this space becomes a strangely reflective experience where minimalist art meets minimalist architecture.
Kuwayama’s impossibly black aluminium squares are a jarring contrast to the elegant flag-shaped quarters that greet the visitor. The artist’s explorations into colour and space have a purity and openness that seem to coax impressions rather than emotions. That describes the playful ’TK179-1/4-’81’, whose pattern of triangles comes across like some kind of modernist climbing wall, reaching up in their own timeless, infinite way.
Through Oct 3, Lempke Haus, Alt-Hohenschönhausen
Neo Rauch: Der Beifang
Gutshaus Steglitz may be a little on the small side for German painter Neo Rauch’s full-scale canvases, but it proves to be the ideal space for this intimate exhibition of works on paper. His wife and fellow painter Rosa Loy calls them his “diary drawings”, sketches that emerged in between his work on bigger projects. Rauch’s surreal, vividly coloured dreamscapes have an unnerving quality, perfectly illustrated by ‘The Xylophone’, which depicts a craftsman placing a classical head atop a child’s collapsing toy.
Rarely do the densely packed figures interact with each other. Instead, they appear lost in their own thoughts. Including works made after 2000, the sketches are said to revolve around issues close to the artist’s heart, but where his true inspiration comes from is anybody’s guess. This is a great chance to see the work of Rauch, one of the outstanding painters of our time, whose last institutional solo exhibition in Berlin was in 2001.
Through Sep 26, Gutshaus Steglitz, Steglitz