Sunday, April 21, 2013


Renger-Patzsch is a restaurant in Schöneberg. Renger-Patzsche is also a photographer (first name, Albert) who made "objective" pictures of the natural world and the world that we, as human beings, have made of it. After our return from Hannover last night, Judy and I dined at Renger-Patzsch, where she had the mushroom "flame cake" and I had the ox cheeks.

We had travelled to attend the opening of Brian Jungen's exhibition at the Hannover Kunstverein. The following day, Brian, Judy and I walked the city's streets, explored its main Rathaus and marvelled at the contents of its Sprengel Museum, which featured excellent exhibitions of Robert Michel and Ella Bergmann-Michel, Boris Mikhailov and Meret Oppenheim, in addition to an impressive (early) modern collection that included rooms by El Lissitzky (Kabinett der Abstraktion, 1927) and the locally-born Kurt Schwitters (MERZbau, 1933), as well as some attractive paintings by the Expressionist Emil Nolde (1867-1956).

With respect to Brian's exhibition, it 
coincides with what is now the completion of eight years work since the touring "mini-retrospective" generated by the Vancouver Art Gallery in 2005, which in turn was comprised of artworks made since 1997. The difference between these first and latest eight years will be the subject of my upcoming review for Canadian Art. But in the meantime let me say that while the last eight years have not produced anything as spectacular as Prototypes for New Understanding (1999) or the subsequent "whale series", the artist has accomplished what many of his sharpest supporters have hoped for, and that is a move beyond the propositions that had Nike trainers turned into masks and plastic chairs into skeletal forms (Shapeshifter, 2000) for explorations that begin, in this instance, with more primary sources (the hides of elk) and "end" with an even wider range of outcomes, from an earlier (pre-war) form of abstract sculpture (Sound Space, 2010) to a series of process-orientated articulated prints (Five Year Universe, 2011).

While our 24 hours in Hannover accounted for much of our dinner conversation, we did allow ourselves to focus on the virtues of our food and wine while inside what is, for the most part, a large rectangular room decorated with prints by a photographer who, according to Met curator Maria Morris Hambourg, is more interested in reality's "texture" and the "essence" of its objects than what is, at times, wearily referred to as art.

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