Much huffing and puffing as I tidy up the studio and do trips to Kaiser to buy nibbles for the Opening of my Exhibition, ‘Consolation For Our Mortality'. Borrowing a sort of baby buggy from Marcus in the cellar, Tom helps me trundle back the cases of beer. The show looks good and I'm both relieved and excited.
In the evening I went to meet up with Carla and Tom for the Opening of Daniel Biesold's paintings at the Koal gallery. His work interests me as he uses acrylic mediums in a layered semi-transparent way, as I too have been experimenting with for years. The monochromatic, white with hints of black or colour, paintings looked elegantly calm. However well achieved, there is still the hurdle here that I face too, of the finishing areas at the edges causing happenstance to predominate.
Going on from there to the DNA gallery where a Japanese artist had his Opening, showing colouring book cartoon drawings of the lives of the people where his installation had just been exhibited in Singapore. Downstairs there was a painting by Clemence Krauss, for whom Tom works as a studio assistant. The work is figurative and uses excessive build-ups of oil paint with fast drying mediums to make figures that are then cut out and glued to the canvas along with words that are made by squeezing directly from the tube. As if Auerbach or Kossuth went Pop. Not my thing, but I can see how people who rave about the sensuousness of oil paint and who like, for example, Therese Oulton's work could like these. He sells well especially in Brazil.
How's the work for exhibition going? Yes you may well ask. The paintings are just having all those tiny last touches. That yellow one has been redone and the blue one finally, finally, has that really difficult bit finished. At least I am not looking at it any more in case I see more that has to be changed. With my eyes shut they feel right anyway.
Tom helps me put up the last painting and off we go in the afternoon to the Tier Park East Berlin Zoo. Wow. What a place. How come it is such a secret that it isn't even in the guidebooks? It is huge, practically empty of visitors, and so wonderfully spacious, mostly only with open moats instead of fences. Animals in all their exotic splendour were revealed. Chubby furry Red Pandas, a clan of elephants playing with sticks, giraffes and my ‘own' animal even: porcupines.
As a child I had always said that if I were to be an animal as in the game that people play, I would choose to be a porcupine. My reason was that they don't hurt anybody, neither flesh eating, nor attacking, they are vegetarians eating bark and plants. At the same time they have sharp quills that they can shoot if they themselves are attacked, insuring their inviolability. So they can live a peaceful existence without fear. And there they were before my eyes in this wondrous zoo. I have a photo to prove it, and of the large manatees, the original inspiration for mermaids, swimming lazily underwater in an enormous open pool. This is definitely the place to go for contentment, fresh air, Nature and awe.
Continuing the painting marathon, I nevertheless stopped at eight to go to the St. George's English Bookshop on Würther Strasse where they show films once a week, putting leather couches and chairs in rows that get filled up quickly. Three euros entry for a double bill wonderfully also includes a drink. They were showing an Ingmar Bergman film starring Ingrid Bergman strangely enough, but there is no relation. ‘Autumn Symphony' is a film I'd long wanted to see, not only for the superb acting, but also for a famous scene where a piano sonata is played in turn by both the daughter first and then the mother, with the music encapsulating all the tensions of their relationship. It was excellent from that point of view, but unrelenting in portraying a woman who was so ‘selfish' and ‘egotistical' as to have a career as a concert pianist thereby wrecking both her children's lives. Even the cerebral palsy of one of them is laid at her feet for having gone on a concert tour for three months. Does Lancet know about this? Obviously a film produced by a man and not a load of laughs My God I don't think the film was that old either. Give us a break!
Superb artistry but a depressing affront to my sensibilities, it made me want to mount a counter attack. All the way walking back to the studio I was trying to think from both points of view although fuming on the pianist mother's behalf. Of course emotions aren't logical and it is easier to blame than to accept or forgive.
Still, what a wonderfully great bookshop for ex-pats in Berlin. They also have a lending system for books, and will buy back any books they sell. Both the people that run it are friendly and intelligent; as well one is extremely tall, dark and handsome. What more can one say?
Most of the day was spent sanding, filling and repainting the damaged painting and getting the other paintings finished and hung.
Bits of gaffer tape and pieces of string have been appearing in odd places around the Milchhof. One day I noticed string dangling next to the loo, another day along the window sill in the corridor, then on the floors at odd junctions and so on, more and more little scraps of gaffer tape appearing. It is strange how such insignificant stuff can become a focus. Obviously it is being videoed for an art piece, but lately it has become annoying because they don't remove the bits of tape as they finish and move on to put more in another area, consequently the other discarded stuff becomes dirty and scuffed from people's feet. Is that part of the piece? To see how long before someone starts to pull it off and throw it away thus destroying someone else's art? I'm resisting the urge, not really because of any tolerance to mess, although I have a lot of that for my own messes. When I first came to London during a very cold winter I was lent a studio to share, no one else using it at the time. When I arrived it had broken glass all over the floor that I duly swept up and threw in the dustbin. After a few weeks another artist turned up at the place in Primrose Hill. Well of course you guessed it – that broken glass was their artwork. So I am averting my eyes from annoying bits of tape untidily piling up in corners and corridors.