There is a new addition to the ever-swelling ranks of galleries looking to find reasonable rent in a city with rapidly accelerating property prices. Mitte is on the way out, we are told. Is Schoneberg the answer?
Nestled betwixt kebap houses and XXX video rental stores is Circle Culture’s latest expansion of their mini-art empire. With Circle Culture locations already in Mitte and Hamburg, what can the Potsdamer upstart offer? Well, space for one. 560 square metres of the stuff. This gives them scope to put on some pretty hefty exhibitions, so they’ve done just that: Potse 68, the inaugural exhibition, features artists represented by Circle Culture, such as Kevin Earl Taylor, the illustrious Jonathan Yeo and Maya Hayuk, who created a colourful patterned mural especially for the show. In addition to this, there are a few guest names on display: Moneyless, Clemens Behr, Jaybo and others all created new work especially for the show.
Before going we were given what I took to be a warning. “It’s urban art, guys.” Now as someone who comes from Bristol, a city that sees only sporadic flickers of decent, thought-provoking art trying to find its way through all the Banksy-obsessed derivative vaguely anti-establishment bilge, this naturally filled me with dread. I had images of bankers with cackling pigs heads and leading politicians decapitating minorities, or some slogan in garish pink spray paint, railing against whatever the German equivalent of Tesco is (Down with Kaisers?). Thankfully, I was completely off the mark and ‘urban art’ doesn’t mean what I thought it did. Not here at least. It draws more from pop-art and sub-cultural influences.
Standout works included a minimalist painting by Rio-born, Vienna-trained Christian Rosa, whose process is all about unlearning. His work has something of a pared-down Basquiat about it. Jonathan Yeo’s vaginal leaves were a light-hearted look-again continuation on the theme of his famous (or infamous if you were inside the Bush administration) George Bush vagina-face. The animated and highly personable Oskar Rink was present to talk about her small delicate three dimensional worlds, constructed from cardboard, paper and thin wooden sticks. In conversation she is hard to pin down, leaping from one topic to another, leading you off on tangents, mind seemingly juggling a million things.
Potse 68 was a well-curated show that demonstrated the depth and variety of talent at Circle Culture’s disposal. With the opening of this new, spacious gallery, the next chapter of Circle Culture begins. It would be worth watching to see where it takes them.
Text: Louis Labron Johnson