Dienstag, 26. August 2014

Hommage to Otto Piene at the Neue Nationalgalerie and the Deutsche Bank KunstHalle, Berlin 2014

Photo: Mathias Schormann  
Sky Art Event, 19th July2014 
Installation view Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin

They say the sky is the limit, yet the oeuvre of artist Otto Piene proves the contrary. The two exhibitions Otto Piene. More Sky and The Proliferation of the Sun currently on at the Deutsche Bank KunsHalle and the Neue Nationalgalerie are all about expansion of space, breaking the conventional modes of seeing and artistic experiment.

Both exhibitions offer different formats of showing the artists work that explores the cross-disciplinary spheres in art inspired by natural sciences: movement, the medium, the sun, the light in Marschal MacLuhan's sense of “medium as the message.” In Deutsche Bank KunstHalle Otto Piene's installation with rotating lights piercing through sieve-like grids dissolve the traditional white cube into a dynamic space. Optically dematerialising the contours of the form the light projections are set in constant movement putting to test spectators' bodily perception of time and space.

It's not only Otto Piene's work but also the way it's presented that is essential. Piene's installations are autonomous spaces for artistic freedom – and are presented as such highlighting the artist's multimedia, performative approach, dialogue with the exhibition space, technological and scientific aspects. While the exhibition at the Neue Nationalgalerie, the re-staged slide show entitled “Proliferation of the Sun” focusses on the interaction with Mies van der Rohe's modernist architecture. The original installation dating back to the 60-ies has been specially re-staged adjusted to the exhibition site's scale. The show at the Deutsche Bank KunstHalle allows an overview of the artist's multidisciplinary, process-based approach, his exploration of kinetic and mechanical movements. It displays works created between 1952 – 1975: from the early black and white works on paper, the raster pictures emphasising the medial support of the picture surface to the paintings created with burning fire and culminating with the light installations that dissolve space.

The two exhibitions in two different environments complement and draw upon each other emphasising the diversity of Otto Piene's visionary work. Last but not least the outdoor project - Sky Art Event outside the Neue Nationalgalerie demonstrated the spectacular character of Piene's ephemeral actions - his temporary “inflatables” - star-shaped sculptures floating high above, first shown in Berlin at the Technical University in 1984, were as fascinating as ever.

Together with Heinz Mack and Günther Uecker Otto Piene was the founder of the art movement ZERO strongly shaped by multi-media actions and performative exhibitions. Otto Piene has had an enormous influence on contemporary art. According to Svenja Gräfin von Reichenbach, head of the Deutsche Bank KunstHalle, Otto Piene's works like most of works by ZERO artists offer various formats of display and their reading depends largely on the environments and contexts of presentation. Keeping this in mind all the more interesting are the upcoming retrospectives of the ZERO artists scheduled for 2014-2015 at the Guggenheim New York and at the Martin Gropius Bau, Berlin.

Otto Piene. More Sky is an exhibition cooperation between the Neue Nationalgalerie - Staatliche Museen zu Berlin and the Deutsche Bank KunstHalle. The exhibition is on till the 31st of August, 2014.

Photo: Mathias Schormann 

Installation Shot: “Otto Piene. More Sky” at the Deutsche Bank KunstHalle, Berlin

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