My name is Jenny Judova and I love private views. They are a beautiful celebration of the exhibition, the artist(s), the curator(s) and the gallery, and they are loads of fun. Thursday is usually the busiest day of the week and this Thursday was no exception. There were six shows going on and I managed to cut the list down to three that I would visit: Berlin Voids: 25 Years After The Wall by Paul Raftery in Anise Gallery; Dean Hughes in Maria Stenfors and The Humans by Alexander Singh in Spreuth Magers, because it had an awesome poster which hooked me instantly. I have two and a half hours to visit three shows – it was an ambitious plan.
My friend and I turned up at Anise right after 5, even though I’m not a huge fan of arriving too early to an opening. It can be awkward: some galleries act genuinely surprised that someone who is not an immediate relative came to the opening. Sometimes by arriving early you end up trespassing on a press/collectors preview. Then there are times you arrive to see the gallery bolted up and drilling noises coming from inside and the manager opening the door to shout “we’re not ready yet”. Anise Gallery turned out to be great to arrive early to: we were greeted like old friends and guided to the table with wine and nibbles.
…the notion of the Wall still haunts the images…
Berlin Voids is an extensive series of photographs that shows the places where the wall used to be. Despite the wall and its remains not being present in the photographs, the notion of the Wall still haunts the images and the imagination of the viewer. For me the exhibition hit very close to home as I was born on the other side of the wall and although it came down shortly after my birth, imagination still goes on a nightmarish speculative journey every time the Wall is mentioned.
After a drink and a chat, time was pressing us on to Sprueth Magers for a very different show. The Humans by Alexander Singh is a theatre play with performances on twice a day. I was giddy with hope that there would be a performance at the opening. There wasn’t one, and it also turned out that “performance of the Humans will play twice a day” actually meant “the video recording of the theatre performance will be screened twice a day”. Though party of me was disappointed, I could see that it would be inhumane to make the actors perform the 3-hour play twice a day, every day.
…the gallery exhibition comes across as a theatre museum…
I was very impressed how the gallery managed to create the atmosphere of an opera house: plush carpets, dramatic lighting, deep reds and greens on the walls, and wine everywhere. The exhibits in the rooms of the gallery display how the play and the characters come together: the sketches of the costumes, the props, the rough bronze sculptures of the characters. I call all of these ‘exhibits’ rather than artworks because the gallery exhibition comes across as a theatre museum with artifacts connected with the play, and not as independent works of art. Now I have to figure out when to return to watch the screening.
After leaving the The Humans we managed to make it to our third destination Maria Stenfors. Those who have been to the gallery will understand when I say you will remember the first time you see the poorly-lit industrial building where Maria Stenfors is located. Almost everyone has the same thought: “I won’t be killed here, right? – and as we approached, my friend made an awkward joke along these lines. Contrary to its appearance, inside the space is welcoming, well lit and the shows are always thoughtfully curated. Dean Hughes is no exception: his hand dyed and stitched, colourful calico shapes hang of slats, and despite the materials being sturdy and mundane the words seem delicate and are an absolute pleasure to examine.
…you may just get invited to the pub after the private view ends…
We arrived just before the end of the private view, usually the time when the majority has seen the work and is not happily socialising with a beer or wine in hand. This is my favourite time: you can walked around unnoticed and take your time looking at the work, and if you have any questions, everyone is chatty and approachable. Plus, you may just get invited to the pub after the private view ends.
So there you have it, by 8:30pm on a Thursday I saw more art shows than most people in a month. I also met some amazing art professionals and artists who are just as passionate about arts as I am, and I had a few drinks without spending a penny. It’s hard not to love private views!