Opening of the Maja Wolna exhibition in the Pigasus Gallery (06.03.2014)

A few weeks ago, to my amazement and delight, I discovered the Pigasus Gallery – the Polish Poster Gallery in Berlin. Once a month the gallery opens its doors to a new exhibition of Polish and international artists. Last Thursday, 6. March, I visited Pigasus Gallery for the opening of the exhibition of posters by Maja Wolna.

First of all, I was personally impressed by the fact that the collection of Polish posters in the small hidden gallery in Prenzlauer Berg has such a wide and dedicated audience! Though, I can assure you that the works of Maja Wolna carry ideological massage to the political questions current in various places on Earth. In the exhibition you will find her posters from the series “From Behind the Veil”, which give attention to the position of women in Muslim societies. Each poster in a minimalistic and lapidar way presents intelligent metaphors taking notice of female discrimination. Pictures are accompanied by meaningful excerpts of Muslim laws  Image    Image    Image

Maja Wolna’s posters are also concerned with political issues in her homeland and her graphic art is being published in a popular  Polish journal “Gazeta Wyborcza”.  Topics on the map are among others pedophilia in Church and abortion laws, controversial and conspicuous subjects in Poland at the moment.

The current exhibition in the Pigasus gallery gives an overview of the subjects and forms developed in the artist’s career, which is at the same time an overview of the social condition in Poland and abroad. Every poster is a strong ideological tool, which makes me remind the great tradition of this medium represented by Polish Poster School in the postwar Poland. No matter if Maja Wolna identifies with and refers to those traditional ideals, her works are definitely a proud continuation of this tradition.

Pigasus Gallery: http://www.pigasus-gallery.de/index.html

Maja Wolna – official website: http://www.majawolna.com/www/pl

Maja

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Kottie Paloma

Berlin – my luxurious waiting room…

Kottie Paloma is American, born in 1974 in Los Angeles, Ca. In 1996 he moved to San Francisco. His work addresses the ridiculousness of life. Inspired by contemporary urban life, his pieces explore the darker side of society in a humorous way. Much of the text in his art derives from overheard conversations, lyrics from his favorite music or from past experiences. Kottie Paloma’s work has been displayed in exhibitions throughout the United States, South Korea, and Europe. He currently lives and creates in Berlin.

(source: kottiepaloma)

I met Kottie a few weeks ago. I saw one of his photographs in an exhibition at ‘Das Gift’ and already knew that I definitely wanted to talk with him about his art. We met on one Saturday evening at his studio in Neukolln.

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Dagmara: When did you start to paint?

Kottie: I am a late bloomer, I started when I was maybe 22 or 23, but didn’t really get going till when I was maybe 27 years old. Then there was a big break for about 3 years or so. I went to Art School but I got kicked out for not being able to make the payments. Actually, If I could start over I would have never gone to Art School.

D: Why?

K: Too expensive and full of cry babies.  But that was like 15 years ago and its not in my mind anymore.

D: How did your family react to your decision of becoming an artist?

K: Happy. Though I do not talk with them about my art. As long as I’m not living on their cost and it is nothing illegal what I am doing, they are happy.

D: Apart from selling your artworks, what do you do to make a living?

K: I am currently working in a bar called Das Gift, which is owned by Barry and Rachel Burns. Barry plays keyboards for that band Mogwai. They both rule and are super cool to work for. I also work part time  in a tea warehouse which is suicidally boring. These two jobs create a full time job.

D: Do you still manage to paint regularly?

K: Yes, I come here each day for an average of 8 hours. Its my 2nd home and my studio mate Leah has a super comfy couch which I take really awesome naps on. Though she is moving out next week and I plan to take over her studio, thus almost doubling the size of the space we are sitting in now. But crap… I’ll need to find a new couch.

D: Is the life of an artist lonely?

K: Lonely? not at all. I have the most friends I have ever had in my entire life. If an artist feels lonely these days, then they are doing something wrong or I don’t know or maybe they lost a best friend or a loved one and this makes them feel lonely, but…just no one should ever  have to feel lonely when there are 7 billion people on this planet.

D: Where do you paint from? Do you paint from your imagination or photos, real life? What is your inspiration?

K: I am a very reactionary person. One song or a conversation or the way a person talks or laughs can inspire me. I also think of myself as a social commentator. The earlier work with the text bubble and solid imagery was more about things that happen in  life. My goal was to make crappy situations into craptastic situations, something laughable. The new big paintings are changing fast. It’s not so much about solid imagery as it is about moods and being dirty yet still shining somehow. The new paintings are more abstract and more spiritual in a been-dragged-through-the-streets kind of way.

D: I do especially like one painting of yours called Sacred Life. It differs from others, it does not contain any words.

K: Yes, this one speaks for itself.

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Kottie Paloma Sacred Life

D: Is there any story behind it? What is this artwork about?

K: It was created mostly because I needed to paint something. I would say that very rarely I have an intention to paint something specific. From the very beginning…the intention is being discovered through the process. This one was painted in 25 minutes. But I was and am, for some reason, thinking a lot about death. I don’t know why. Its just something sitting on my shoulders. In the period last year when I created this one, I could have sworn I saw my old friend Lyndsay in my studio. I mean he wasn’t there in the physical presence. But more like in a cartoon, like a Tom and Jerry cartoon, where Tom will have an angel on one shoulder and the devil on his other. Both the angel and the devil are the same person, just one is an angel and one is a devil. Each one telling Tom to do something in contrast to the other. I had this with my buddy Lyndsay, and I don’t know why as we hadn’t even spoken to each other since 2008. Anyways, he was sitting on both my shoulders as both an angel and a devil. The angel version kept telling me to use more pink while the devil was saying use more black, then just like in a cartoon I had to squash one of those voices so I could finish the painting, I worked very late this night, I think till 2am or so, When I got home, a friend in San Francisco contacted me to say Lyndsay had died one week earlier. I was really blown away by that. I thought, hmmm maybe Lyndsay really was sitting on my shoulders  tonight. The next day I titled the painting “Sacred life”.

D: Crazy! That’s very impressive. Do you manage to sell a lot of your artworks?

K: I already sold quite many, I have works in the MOMA Collection in NYC, lots of work in other institutions  like Harvard, Yale, Stanford University, The Bavarian State Library in Munich among others and a few private collectors.  I have a new art dealer in NYC  named John Pollard who co-runs  MULHERIN + POLLARD NYC and a second dealer named Lillian Munch who runs Munch Gallery also in the lower east side. I had a show with her in 2011 and she still wants to sell some of the left over works from that show. So at least for New York things are moving forward. However here in Berlin, it seems to be pretty difficult here. Not to sound like a cry baby… but I don’t feel like I am on anyone’s radar  here. Even dealers, curators and galleries here whom my friends work with still haven’t tapped into my work yet. Too combat this I have teamed up with a high end furniture dealer named Bjorn Berger and his company called Supergrau at his showroom here in Berlin. Its kind of a back or side door to the art world.  He is selling my paintings with the furniture of his designers based in Munich.  In January Bjorn Berger will be showcasing some of my paintings at the IMM Furniture fair in Cologne. I say its a side or back door, but still an open door I am happy to walk through. This works for now in terms of Berlin and I exhibit in other cities in Europe a couple of times a year. But it would indeed be nice to have a dealer here that is connected to the Berlin art scene as well as globally. For now in arts speak, while everything is in motion and slowly moving forward,  I would say that Berlin is my luxurious waiting room. 

D: How do you react to criticism of your art?

K: I do not care about that. Usually if someone attacks my work it has nothing to do with art, it’s just a way to attack me.  One problem is that I do not get much feedback here in Berlin. Everyone just looks at my work on the internet which creates a whole new problem. For example, last year Claudio Pfeifer who owns Pogo Books here in Berlin published my first catalog. I think when people look at the work in the catalog, or online they associate it with illustration, but to me this couldn’t be further from the truth. My work is too crude for that pigeon hole. Then when these same people see the same work from the book  or from the internet in person, their minds change quickly and then they seem to associate it more with painting. But for the most part, I would say most people who see my work in person smile and tell me I need a larger audience.

D: What is your dream project?

K: I would like to buy an entire building here. Gut it out, hire my architect friends to re-build it. Expand everything I am currently doing on a larger scale, hire assistants, all the stuff many artist dream about. But, I am already doing alot of what I want to do in terms of  creating art. I try not to let anything or anyone hold me back. Just right now because of a lack of money, everything I am doing is on a small scale. I also don’t have enough storage space to create all the stuff I want to make, so its this weird balance of which ideas gets put on the shelf for a latter date and which ideas get created today. But I see these things as minor problems that are hopefully soon fixable. One new thing I would love to get into though is product design. My wife Meike is an amazing designer. With her I would like to create things for the house like dinner plates and shower curtains, blankets, beach towels etc…

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making fun of historical monuments … Teddy Bear as a hero

Thank you Kotttie for this interview! Wish you very best in the future and many plates with your name on it;)

Daga

 

SCHÖNEBERGER ART WALK part 2

Our walk through Berlin galleries was so prolific, it would be a big mistake not to mention some of the particular artists and their exciting artworks here in detail.

What I appreciated most was the innovativeness of the artists, who mixed techniques and mediums to achieve a surprising effect. The present exhibition in caspar gallery shows art pieces of Anja Sieber. Taking sounds and narratives as an inspiration, she creates artworks between painting and sculpture. With the use of acrylic gel Sieber transfers a drawing or a print into an elastic colorful material, which after the paint dries resembles a kind of a 3D painting. The intertwining colors and forms play with our mind and after a while we start to make out contours of the real objects in this seemingly abstract work.

Anja Sieber "FAUNA festlich" cycle

Anja Sieber “FAUNA festlich” cycle

Another artist whose works are on display in the gallery is Angela Mercedes Donna Otto. Her exhibition “Klecksograffia” proves that everyday objects can become art. Otto replaces print with tea and coffee stains distributing them freely on the old book pages. Kleckse – blots create the figures of fictive creatures on the paper.

»fragments«:  Angela Mercedes Donna Otto (source: http://www.hoploid.com/projects/fragments/)

»fragments«:
Angela Mercedes Donna Otto (source: http://www.hoploid.com/projects/fragments/)

Photography as a popular art medium today was also an essential part of the exhibitions. What interested me most was when photographs were combined with different techniques.

Although photography is a young art form, experiments in this field are known from the very beginning from its emergence, that is from the second half of the 19th century. Gum bichromates for instance are photographs which due to its development process obtain a picturesque element and can even be difficult to distinguish from paintings. A Dutch artist Teun Hocks, presenting his works in Bassange, actually adds paint to the photographs, which in turn creates a magical atmosphere. The piece “Untitled” (Man walking with painting under his arm) resembles an illustration from a children’s book.

Teun Hocks: “Untitled” (Man walking with painting under his arm)

Maja

Schöneberger Art Walk

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Yesterday we took part in Schöneberger Art Walk ( http://www.schoenebergerartwalk.de/ ), which was a really nice and well-organized event. We would not manage to go to five galleries on such a gloomy afternoon, we needed motivation, and this event definately helped us! This time we visited gallery mianki, Dencker+Schneider Art Gallery, caspers, Silberkuppe and Bassenge. We are looking forward to the next “walk” in January!

Dagmara&Maja

Emet Sosna

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On one already winter evening, I had a pleasure to go to a small exhibition in a pub called The Gift. The place looked inconspicuous. The small gallery was hidden inside a pub, behind the bar. I really loved it! I met there Emet Sosna, a young artist from New York, whose one month stay in Berlin was unfortunately coming to an end. Emet presented there only one of his works. I could not resist and asked him to give us a short interview. He immediately agreed and that’s how we have our very first material for our website!!!

Dagmara: When did you start to paint?

Emet: I painted my whole life, I already started as a kid. I went to CCA (California College of the Arts) and when I finished, I did my Masters in Brooklyn College. I do all kinds of painting.

D: Where do you usually work?

E: I have a studio in New York and Berlin.

D: What is the most important to you when you paint? Do you focus on the characters you present in your painting or the colours, the aesthetics?

E: I have ideas and then I bring them to my paintings so they can communicate visually with  the colours, the form, the design. The ideas are the most important to me.

D: Where do you paint from? From imagination, photos? What is your inspiration?

E: I paint from various photos or sketches that I collect or just from my mind. I sometimes paint from people but it takes a lot of time to get models. These paintings from the show were just painted from my mind. I lived on a boat, on a river in France for a while and people swimming there inspired me.

D: I saw more of your works on your website http://www.emetsosna.com/. I especially liked living room and falling face. They are very thought-provoking works of yours. What I also observed, is that your works are very varied. Do you have any particular themes or style that you stick to? Or do you prefer to explore different techniques?

E: I  want to take elements from the traditional, historical painting and contemporary and merge them into one. It is a mix of historical past and present. I try to make it very contemporary with its sense of everyday life so that everyone is able to approach a painting.

D: What characteristics does a person need to become an artist?

E: Well, there are different kinds of artists. If you want to be an artist, who shows his art and earns money, this is more complicated. It takes a lot of imagination, inspiration. Inspiration is what it is all about to me. Only then it is possible to interact with people, to communicate. You need to let yourself go from what has already been made. It is a big challenge.

D: I understand…but you also need to know the techniques and all the basics, right? You can have a rich imagination but without such knowledge you will not go far.

E: Thats’ right. There are different ways to learn art. You can start with learning all the skills and techniques, and then move forward to developing your own technique from what you know or just do it as you learn, that’s how you develop your own art.

D: What in your opinion is the role of an artist in the society?

E: Society creates  a structure so that everybody can function. The artist should play with this,  just to make people look at themselves in a new light and to go outside from their daily routines. He should help people to experience something new, take an adventure.

D: What does being a succesful artist mean to you?

E: Artist is successful to me when he has his vision and is finally able to make his art and when he is able to do that for a while.

Emet is planning to come back to Berlin in springtime, this time maybe for a much longer period of time!

We wish you all the best and once again thank you so much for your time!

Daga