Love, Ren Hang at C/O Gallery
Address: Hardenbergstraße 22-24, 10623 Berlin
Opening hours: 11am to 8pm everyday of the week
Price: 10 euros / Reduced 6 euros
Finissage: 29th of February
C/O Berlin features the exhibition Love, Ren Hang for the first time in Germany. It is a comprehensive retrospective including over 150 recent works by Ren Hang, one of the most important contemporary photographers in China.
About the artist: Ren Hang was born in 1987 in Chang Chun, Northeastern China and had a trouble-free childhood. His father was a railway worker and his mother, who later modeled for him in the memorable series, “My Mum”, worked in a printing house.
In 2007, Ren first began taking pictures of his roommates and friends, shooting them in the nude. In an interview, he also admitted he usually shoots his friends as strangers make him nervous. Since then, Ren Hang was arrested many times for his explicit photographs and also experienced censorship throughout his career in his home country. Ren was an artist who could not live an artist’s life freely where he most wanted to: at home. He lived and worked in a claustrophobic atmosphere, where finding a print shop to print a book of his own photography was an epic undertaking. In China, freedom of expression is a privilege, not a right.
« My pictures politics have nothing to do with China. It’s Chinese politics that wants to interfere with my art »
Hang photographed the naked body because it is something we naturally encounter living alongside others, not to assess a political statement. He photographed the bodies of his friends or friends of friends because he felt the need for emotional connection in his work. And although he was globally renowned, he never gained the recognition he deserved in his home country. Partly because he was often denied the opportunity to display his work in Beijing and throughout China. But his photography helped to break through the social taboo of nudity in the name of natural beauty. His creative representations of gender and sexuality, especially in the context of Chinese social conservatism, earned him praise from the LGBT community. Hang was considered a queer artist and a good representative of his community.
The exhibition also features some of Ren’s poems. The artists posted a series of poems entitled « My depression ». Hang was a very secret and mysterious person but he did express his feelings through writing especially. In poems but also in his personal journal that was translated from Chinese to English by Maria Jeleri. In his journal, Hang allowed us to see a part of him that was vulnerable and relatable.
« One evening night, after I got home, I was lying in bed and the moonlight that was entering through my window cast a shadow on the wall. The entire room seemed like a prison. I have always thought about it, but I have never understood. How do I keep myself locked in a prison ? »
He is not only his suicide nor the « provocative Chinese photographer », the chronicler of his own depression or the victim of Chinese censorship. There are smaller, more personal elements of Ren Hang’s life, that sees Ren Hang as the « ordinary person » he felt he was. Ren Hang represented a new hope and a new generation for young Chinese artists. He never turned his back on his country or ended the fight for his freedom.
When asked why he remained in China, Ren answered: « I shoot here because I love China. It’s my country. I was born here. The censorship makes me want to stay even more. Not being able to do what you want in your own country is such a tragic way to live ». Ren Hang didn’t fully live out the quiet life he hoped for, but in the process, he revealed just how truthful and beautiful this hope can be.
« Ren’s works expose phenomena and images that aren’t visible in daily life. They feel like they’re from a different world. » – Model
Igor Skaletsky at The Ballery
Address: Nollendorfstraße 11, 10777 Berlin
Opening hours: From Wednesday to Friday : 3pm-7pm
Finissage: 8th of February
Igor Skaletsky is a neo-surrealist Russian artist that will also be a part of The Ballery’s upcoming exhibition « From Russia with love » that features many other blindly talented Russian artists: Oleg Dou, Katerina Belkina, Slava Mogutin, Fedya Ili, Kristina Okan and Sergei Ehses.
At his exhibition’s vernissage, Igor was very humbly talking to the public about his paintings that are the incredible result of a perilous and original process. In fact, Igor meticulously chooses different patterns and images, creates a collage, prints it and then paints over his collage in order to give them a much more realistic and rustic effect. Igor Skaletsky provokes the very uniform encounter of vivid colors, fashion, Russian embroidery, pop culture references and camp.
A little more about his artistic movement: Neosurrealism or Neo-Surrealism is an artistic genre that illustrates the complex imagery of dream or subconscious visions and irrational space and form combinations. The term has been given to the reappearance of well-known surrealism movement in the late 1970s. Initially, the movement focused on relating surrealism with pop-art, but lately modern artists have been exploring extra directions similar to fantastic, visionary, and fantasy art within the present genre. Neosurrealism frequently called « modern surrealism » due to a noticeable visual resemblance of these two genres. However, the main distinction between them is that Neosurrealism does not imply the original surrealist idea of a freedom from rational control or psychic automatism declared by André Breton, in his « Manifeste du surréalisme » (Surrealist Manifesto). Two Surrealist Manifestos were issued by the Surrealist movement, in 1924 and 1929. The first was written by André Breton, the second was supervised by him. Breton drafted a third Surrealist manifesto which was never issued.
Helga Paris at Akademie der Künste
Address: Pariser Platz 4, 10117 Berlin
Opening hours: 10am to 8pm everyday of the week
Price: 6 euros / Reduced 4 euros
Finissage: 12th of January
Berlin’s Academy of Arts is making a beautiful hommage to Helga Paris long lasting influential photography carrer. Not less than four whole rooms are dedicated to the photographer’s art. Between her starting point in Prenzlauer Berg, the faces she captured in the streets of Berlin, the beauty of New York and he trip to Transylvania, nothing is missing from this impressive exhibition that will change your perception of portraits and of the legendary Helga Paris.
With around 275 photographs from the period of 1968 till 2011 – including numerous single frames and series shown for the first time – the exhibition of Helga Paris at the Akademie der Künste on Pariser Platz is the photographer’s most comprehensive to date. It is the first retrospective of Paris’ work in her home city of Berlin in 25 years.
About the artist: Having lived in Berlin’s Prenzlauer Berg district since 1966, Helga Paris (born 1938) began taking photos of people in her neighborhood in the early 1970s. She found her photographic motifs in flats, pubs, break rooms and factory halls, or on the streets and in train stations. With a background in modernist painting, theatre and poetry as well as early Soviet, Italian and French cinema, the autodidact photographer has spent the last four and a half decades developing an extensive œuvre of delicate, nuanced black-and-white photography.
But she is not only a chronicler of Prenzlauer Berg. Helga Paris also has taken photos in Halle, Leipzig, Transylvania, Georgia, Moscow, Volgograd and New York. There, as in her local neighbourhood, she constantly explores how it feels « to be in history », and how the respective circumstances are reflected at the most private level. Helga Paris’s imagery has a particular poetic approachability, in part because it forgoes all ideological interpretations; her gaze suggests profound solidarity.
For the exhibition, the director Helke Misselwitz has designed a documentary film triptych, in which she makes it possible to experience how the life and work of Helga Paris are both interwoven and interdependent. Misselwitz traces a wide arc from the photographer’s childhood to the present; from Prenzlauer Berg to sites around the world; and from Paris’ close-ups to her farsighted vision.
Other must-see exhibitions to successfully start off 2020:
Van Gogh’s still lifes at Barberini
Address : Humboldtstraße 5-6, 14467 Potsdam
Opening hours : Monday to Sunday (closed on Tuesdays) 10am to 7pm
Price : 14 euros / Reduced 10 euros
Finissage : 2nd of February
The Van Gogh exhibition Still Lifes has been organized by Dr Michael Philipp, Chief Curator at the Museum Barberini. Overall, it presents 27 of these paintings in a representative selection, illustrating the painter’s artistic evolution. It traces the œuvre from the studies in sombre, earthy tones painted during Van Gogh’s early period between 1881 and 1885 to the still lifes with brightly coloured fruit and flowers that he produced during his last years in Arles, Saint-Rémy, and Auvers.
Rafael’s Madones at Gemäldegalerie
Address : Matthäikirchplatz, 10785 Berlin
Opening hours : Saturday and Sunday : 11am to 6pm
Tuesday to Friday : 10am to 6pm
Price : 10 euros / Reduced 5 euros
Finissage : 26th of April
The history of Bauhaus at the Berlinische Galerie
Address : Alte Jakobstraße 124-128, 10969 Berlin
Opening hours : Monday to Sunday (closed on Tuesdays) 10am to 6pm
Price : 12 euros / Reduced 9 euros
Finissage : 27th of January