König Galery – opening Soon

In January the König Gallery presents two new solo exhibitions by MONIRA AL QADIRI USURPER and JOHANNES WOHNSEIFER, starting from the 19th of January.

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MONIRA AL QADIRI USURPER

The KÖNIG GALERIE is pleased to present the second exhibition of Monira Al Qadiri in the spaces of St. Agnes. Following her 2023 show, CRUDE EYE, in the former Chapel, USURPER is installed in the more capacious NAVE, transforming it into a monochromatic, (post-)apocalyptic setting in which the artist confronts us with the topic of theft: theft of vision, theft of life, and theft of the natural world – the environmental destruction wrought by the excavation and use of fossil fuels, especially petroleum.

Header Image: Monira Al Qadiri, ONUS, 2023; Photo by Markus Tretter © Courtesy of the artist and Kunsthaus Bregenz

the post-truth world we inhabit today

Entering the exhibition, the monumental sculpture The Guardian awaits: a mesmerizing milky white plant. It is an enlarged Calotropis Procera, a biblical plant that goes by many names one being “The Apple of Sodom,” known for millennia for its poisonous milk that causes blindness. As the frightening dripping form indicates, Al Qadiri’s sculpture stands as a memorial to the blind condition, not only in a physical sense but also a psychological one, in which people refuse to believe the reality of images they are confronted with within the confines of the post-truth world we inhabit today.

Another dimension emerges beyond the initial entrance, which overwhelms with glowing whiteness and a stark soundtrack playing in the background. The space is reminiscent of the afterlife, of that alternate universe where a story’s protagonist is confronted with existential truths and intractable questions. Against this backdrop, Al Qadiri unfolds USURPER’s core narrative, at the centre of which lays the sculptural installation Onus: a haunting scene depicting the aftermath of the Gulf War (1990-91): 700 oil wells that burned for almost two years, killing all manner of wildlife in their wake, and one of the worst man-made ecological disasters of all time.

Petroleum is an underlying theme of many of Al Qadiri’s works, but it also marks a personal timeline of foundational moments and experiences in her life. Originally from Kuwait, the artist lived through the Gulf War, in which she confronted the destruction of war and of environmental catastrophe first-hand; an experience which informs much of her artistic oeuvre since that time.    

distorted or broken by another’s influence

The trauma of war, as well as the trauma of the incredible denial of image as truth, materializes in Onus, which Al Qadiri first conceived for her largest institutional exhibition to date at Kunsthaus Bregenz in 2023. The installation consists of multiple glass sculptures of birds covered in oil. The choice of medium refers to the idea of the fragility of memory and the ways in which it can be distorted or broken by another’s influence.

The artist is haunted by the reality of these oil-covered animals that she saw after the war, only to be shocked that people abroad did not believe the images of them to be true. In recreating the forms of these birds, she directs the viewer to observe the frail nature of their own memory, no matter how impactful or life-changing it is. It can still be malleable and allowed to fall victim to suspicion and denial, even by oneself over time.    

The sculpture Miner is the largest to date from Al Qadiri’s series of 3D-printed sculptures. For these, she appropriates the shape of real drill heads used in the oil industry, which she then transforms into fantastical alien-like artifacts from a futurist past.

a future beyond the era of petroleum

The white colour and pearly shine of these works grant the objects a magical quality, but their appearance also refers back to the history of pearl diving, which was the main industry in her native Kuwait before the discovery of oil. Between pearls and oil, which share an iridescent colour at either end of the color spectrum – black and white – Miner becomes an almost religious object, a totem of power that manages to dazzle despite its potential for destruction.

In the exhibition USURPER, Al Qadiri intertwines various stories, historical and political motifs, to create a timeless narrative about power, violence, the depletion of natural resources, and, just maybe, a future beyond the era of petroleum.

KÖNIG GALERIE
19 JANUARY – 2 MARCH 2024

PUBLIC OPENING 
19 JANUARY 2024 | 6–8 PM

FEATURED ARTIST

MONIRA AL QADIRI

Monira Al Qadiri (b. 1983) is a Kuwaiti visual artist born in Senegal and educated in Japan. Spanning sculpture, installation, film, and performance, Al Qadiri’s multifaceted practice is based on research into the cultural histories of the Gulf region. Her interpretation of the Gulf’s so-called “petro-culture” is manifested through speculative scenarios that take inspiration from science fiction, autobiography, traditional practices, and pop culture, resulting in uncanny and covertly subversive works that destabilize mythologies of statecraft and modernization as well as traditional notions of gender. Tracing the delicate ecologies threate…

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JOHANNES WOHNSEIFER –
A PANCAKE SHOW

Additionally the KÖNIG GALERIE is pleased to present A PANCAKE SHOW, a new solo exhibition by Johannes Wohnseifer, his 10th with the gallery. The title originates from a mistranslation of the words “Painting Show”, which Wohnseifer embraced as a fitting description for his extended painterly practice.

The artist works in a wide range of media– sculpture, photography, film, graphic design, and installation – all connected by their incorporation of the reality of mass media through reference and appropriation on the one side and the usage of references to art history on the other.

Johannes Wohnseifer, DEMENTIA-PAINTING (detail), 2024, acrylic, lacquer, Scotchlite, pigment on canvas, MDF-frame,
65 x 80 x 4 cm, series of 5 unique works

Dementia Paintings

Featured in A PANCAKE SHOW are works from the artist’s recent “Dementia Paintings” series, in which Wohnseifer transfers digital images into the analog domain of the painted picture. In keeping with the series’ title, the artist focused specifically on visual signs related to this ubiquitous disease, where memory loss, confusion, repetitive actions, getting lost, or acting impulsively were thematized both visually and performatively through Wohnseifer’s own creation of these paintings.

According to the artist, “Experiencing memory loss as a human being is tragic and painful, but at the same time the emptying out in painting can be very beautiful. Accepting these contradictions has actually helped me a lot.”

In addition, examples from another new series, “Poster Pictures”, are displayed. These works consist of aluminum tubes painted in RAL colors – an early color chart system developed in Germany in the 1920s – with each set of tubes consisting of its own unique combination of colours. These containers can then be used for archiving posters, an activity that references Wohnseifer’s long-standing practice of creating a poster for each of his exhibitions.

phenomenon of semantic saturation

These are shown alongside a new group of works made of anodized aluminum image fragments which are complemented by a charcoal drawing executed directly on the wall of the former Chapel at St. Agnes: skeleton-like pictures that combine pictorial object, drawing, and wall work, but nevertheless gesture to the formal language and practice of painting.

The text-based painting, PARTIALLY OVERPAINTED MoMA WITH CATHEDRAL COLORED SHADOW (2024) is composed of pigments extracted from the building materials of the iconic Cologne Cathedral. The result is a deft presentation of the museum as a site of archival memory through an act that simultaneously references the phenomenon of semantic saturation. 

Shadows

In a material sense, the image provides its own shadow, referencing the titular cathedral, which at the time of its completion in the 19th century after more than 600 years of construction, stood as the tallest building in the world.

The only work on paper on display is a gouache by the illustrator Bruno Betti, which comes from the artist’s own personal collection. It shows the sectional drawing of a leopard tank and serves as a kind of provisional poster for the exhibition.

KÖNIG GALERIE
19 JANUARY – 2 MARCH 2024

PUBLIC OPENING 
19 JANUARY 2024 | 6–8 PM

FEATURED ARTIST:

JOHANNES WOHNSEIFER

Johannes Wohnseifer (b.1967 in Cologne, Germany) lives and works in Cologne and Erfstadt, Germany. Apart from galleries like Gisela Capitain, Cologne, Germany (2008); Casey Kaplan, New York, USA (2004); and Almine Rech, Brussels, Belgium (2011), Wohnseifer had solo exhibitions at Presentation House Gallery, Vancouver, Canada (2007); Museum Ludwig, Cologne, Germany (1999); Kunstverein Wuppertal, Wuppertal, Germany (2023); Gallery K, Oslo, Germany (2016, 2009, 2006); Meliksetian | Briggs, Los Angeles, USA (2017); and Sprengel Museum, Hanover, Germany (2003); amongst others. He took part in group exhibitions at Witte de With, Rotterdam, Nethe…

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ST. AGNES
ALEXANDRINENSTR. 118–121
10969 BERLIN
GERMANY

OPENING HOURS
TUESDAY – SATURDAY
11 AM – 6 PM

SPECIAL OPENING HOURS
23.12.2023 – 18.01.2024 CLOSED

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