until 22.10. | #3628ARTatBerlin | WENTRUP presents the exhibition “Praise Berlin” by the artist Karl Haendel. This is the third solo exhibition of the Los Angeles-based artist.
This new body of work focuses on contemporary religious diversity and practice in Berlin and follows the project “Praise New York”, which took place at Mitchell-Innes & Nash Gallery in New York in the spring. In a series of large-scale, realistic drawings depicting the hands of some of the city’s most inspiring Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish or Muslim leaders, Haendel pays homage to a diverse group of pastors, imams, rabbis and priests. This project is not only about religious diversity, but also about ethnic and racial diversity. Berlin is becoming increasingly diverse due to the influx of immigrants. In addition to Catholic and Protestant residents, there is a large Muslim population, growing communities of Buddhists and Hindus, and a small but vibrant Jewish community. The artist shows how vibrant, welcoming and tolerant these faith communities are and hopes to give viewers space to rethink their own belief systems, accept the complexity and broaden their acceptance.
“Over the last two years I have been exploring the idea of group portraiture through the depiction of hands. It’s a new way of doing a portrait that allows people to express themselves with gesture and nuance, but free from the tropes and standards of beauty associated with traditional representational portraiture. And in a time of pandemic where touching is not allowed, it seems to me that portraying the hand is only more interesting. The hands of religious leaders when they pray or perform blessings or rituals are filled with spiritual resonance, which adds to my interest in a time when faith is in short supply. And in art, there are representations of hands in all cultures and times, from the hands of saints in Byzantine mosaics to Buddha’s gestures in bronze sculptures to the mudras in Hindu iconography. This project continues that tradition, but with a focus on interfaith dialogue and diversity.”
For the work, the artist met with each leader in his place of worship to talk about their faith and the history of their congregation in the city and to take reference photos of their hands. Back in his studio, Haendel digitally manipulated these photos to create new and often physically impossible hand compositions – contemporary reinterpretations of ritual hand gestures found in art history. The digital effect, however, remains imperceptibly visible (the same hand holding itself, or a hand with too few or too many fingers), reminding us that these mystical and uncanny appendages are of the present. Based on these digital renderings, Haendel drew each hand portrait in pencil on paper, slowly and meticulously, on a very large scale. In this way, the artist uses his hand and his work to honour the work of each leader, be it intellectual or community service, as a kind of homage that expands the definition of drawing to ritual, meditation and service.
Karl Haendel was born in New York in 1976. He lives and works in Los Angeles.
He was part of the Biennial of the Americas (2015); Whitney Biennial (2014); the 12th Biennale de Lyon (2013) and Prospect 2, New Orleans (2011).
He had solo exhibitions at LAXArt in Los Angeles; the Box at the Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus and the Museum of Contemporary Art (MoCA), Los Angeles. Haendel has been included in group exhibitions at institutions including the FLAG Art Foundation, New York; Aspen Art Museum, Aspen; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Drawing Center, New York; New Museum, New York; Astrup Fearnley Museum, Oslo; Muse d’Art Moderne et d’Art Contemporain, Nizza; Serpentine Gallery, London; Herning Museum of Contemporary Art; Herning; Kunsthalle Bielefeld and Palais Populaire, Berlin. His artworks are in the public collection of the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto; Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art, Oslo, Norway; Deutsche Bank Collection, Frankfurt; Guggenheim Museum, New York; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Kadist Art Foundation, Paris / San Francisco; Kunsthalle Bielefeld; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Museo d’arte della Svizzera italiana, Lugano; Sammlung Wemhöner, Berlin; Perez Art Museum, Miami; Philbrook Museum of Art, Tulsa; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.
Vernissage: Saturday, 17. September 2022 – 5-9 p.m.
Exhibition dates: Saturday, 17. September – Saturday, 22. October 2022to the gallery
Image Caption: Karl Haendel | Father Sylvester Ajunwa, PhD, English-Speaking Catholic Mission, Berlin | 2022 | Pencil on paper | 261 x 216 cm
Exhibition Karl Haendel – WENTRUP | Zeitgenössische Kunst in Berlin | Contemporary Art | Exhibitions Berlin Galerien | ART at Berlin