curated by Timo Niemeyer
Images: Nick Ash
Opening Hours: until 30.06.2019, Tuesday - Friday, 10 - 4 PM, Saturday 12-6 PM
Temporary Showroom, Marburger Straße 3
The Miettinen Collection in cooperation with ARTEK, Lars-Gunnar Nordström Foundation, Helsinki and Kunstkontor Basel
A Nordic pioneer of Modern Art
With the exhibition of works by Lars-Gunnar Nordström (1924-2014), who is one of the most important and influential representatives of Finnish Modern Art and the Nordic avant-garde, the Miettinen Collection is showing excerpts of the artist’s oeuvre in Germany for the first time.
Clear lines and functionality made design and architecture from Finland very well-known throughout the entire world in the course of the 20th century. However, unlike the design work of protagonists like Alvar Aalto or Tapio Wirkkala, Finnish Art Concret has been in something akin to a deep sleep up to the present day and has only attracted the attention of a few passionate collectors of abstract art. Lars-Gunnar Nordström is without a doubt one of the pioneers and a representative of the Nordic avant-garde and Art Concret in Finland. His unmistakable style and his uncompromising and straight loyalty to design makes his oeuvre very much stand out and, in terms of both aesthetic and manual aspects, it certainly measures up to the great Art Concret artists from Central Europe or Latin America. The core idea of the Art Concret movement, which emerged in Central Europe in the 1920s, was described by Max Bill, one of its founders, as follows: “We call those works of art Concrete that came into being on the basis of their inherent resources and rules - without external borrowing from natural phenomena, without transforming those phenomena, in other words: not by abstraction.“ The artistic resources used by Art Concret are therefore reduced to “lines and surfaces, color and light, volumes and masses, structure and composition” (from the Art Concret Manifesto from the year 1930).
‘L-G Nordström’ is curated by the art historian Timo Niemeyer from Kunstkontor in Basel/Switzerland. The design of the exhibition in Marburger Straße 3 in Berlin-Charlottenburg is a homage to the first exhibition by Lars-Gunnar Nordström in the legendary Galerie Artek in Helsinki in the 1950s. It includes paintings and graphic prints from the collection of Timo Miettinen and the L-G Nordström Foundation (Helsinki). The rooms of the gallery have original classic pieces of furniture from Artek from the period between the 1930s and 1970s, all of which were designed by Finnish architect Alvar Aalto (with the kind support of Vitra/Artek 2nd Cycle Helsinki). The Finnish design company Artek (today part of the Vitra Family) is a prime example of Finland’s architectural, design and artistic of the Modern Age and the eponymous gallery in Helsinki has acted as an incubator for Modern Art and a stepping stone among the career of all of Finland’s avant-garde artists.
Individual works, graphic prints and classic pieces of furniture designed by Alvar Aalto and the company Artek are for sale. An exhibition catalog will be presented as part of the Berlin Gallery Weekend at the end of April.
Images: Nick Ash
Opening Hours: until 30.06.2019, Saturday 12 - 6 PM and on request via Robert Grunenberg Berlin
Temporary Showroom and Private Apartment, Marburger Straße 3
There are many ways of engaging with the work of Emanuel Seitz. We could begin with a black square on a white background and connect the geometrical arrangements with the legacy of constructivism. We could suggest that, in its focus on squares, polygons and geometric figures piled up like bricks, it is preoccupied with mathematical correctness and analytical procedures.
We might want to search for figurative meanings. Are these painted sculptures reminiscent of those of Brancusi? Do these idiosyncratic chains of forms conjure up echoes of folklore? Is this pattern, this woven carpet, holding something captive behind its many layers? Are we dealing with abstraction or can we name figurative elements?
We could also start considering paint – and label Seitz an alchemist. He experiments with pigments, mixes natural and synthetic paints and tests their chemical reactions. His colour palette is methodical and personal: he finds his colours, and each is specially composed to render his paintings as “intense as possible.” Here, the interpretative door opens to conceptual art – a further possibility that should not be excluded.
If we follow the art-historical trail back into Seitz’s past – he was, incidentally, a student of Günther Förg – and work through his output, it is surprising that his works from the early 2000s exhibit almost impressionistic features. Cloud formations, mountain ranges or similar atmospheric, natural theatre invite us to lose ourselves. Seitz himself declared his interest in romantics such as Hercules Seghers, who saw no success during his lifetime but later even inspired Rembrandt. These apparently historical images disappeared rapidly after a number of years, until they were faded to black – or amplified, however you wish to put it. Forms emerge from the black: colourful geometrical bustle on canvas is continually accompanied by small-format works on paper that we could appropriately term studies. Labyrinths of form and colour become entangled, revealing something new – where we finally stand today.
We could choose all of these approaches, since the artist himself remains secretive in commentaries upon his work. According to Seitz, to learn more about his painting – indeed, the best way – we must simply engage with it attentively: we must stand before each individual picture and wait to see what it does with us. The forms and colours sink in. If we gaze for long enough, they remain imprinted on our retinas for a while. We can project their image on the white wall.
Is it colour, form, arrangement or technique? – Emanuel Seitz’s works are open to communicating with viewers in every regard.
(Text by Margit Emesz)