“Zeit Vermessen(Measuring of Time)”, an exhibition by Gertraude Pohl & Ade Frey in the Ratskeller Gallery for Contemporary Art Berlin Lichtenberg from 17.3 to 14.5.2021.
On May 7th, 2021 in the middle of the lockdown, I was allowed to visit this exhibition together with Gertraude Pohl, an exhibition that was available for more than 6 months, but which unfortunately could only be open to the public for 3 weeks!
My blog is about textile art, which is why I only mention Gertraude Pohl, who was considered one of the most famous textile artists, or rather “artist of applied arts” of the former GDR, which Dietmar Laue and I had documented in several Textilforum issues (first in our “DDR-issue” 2/87, but then also on the cover picture of TF1 / 06 as well as in an article about her architecture-related work in TF 2/06 page 20-21).
She experienced an extreme period after the Berlin wall was coming down, where almost all of her major commissions were publicly demolished, such as her great patchwork-like marble floor in the Palace of the Republic. Or the works quietly and secretly disappeared, like their impressive tapestries for the Schinkel interior in the Friedrichwerder Church memorial, which were removed twice. Already at the opening, because they reminded Honecker too much of the American stars and stripes, and the new administrators West couldn’t imagine any modern wallhanging in a building made by the famous German architect Karl Friedrich Schinkel (born 1781)!
I was expecting her witty pictures, objects and installations, which she had created in dealing with the events after the fall of the Berlin Wall, and was quite surprised when I also found a whole series of new material pictures (different handmade and painted papers, collages on wood) from 2019 and 2020. The inspiration for these pictures was a trip to Morocco, a country that she got to know for the first time. Gertraude Pohl is now 80 years old, old as Methuselah she says herself, and yet in a short time she has produced a series of pictures whose blaze of colors stimulates and touches me as a viewer. To me every single one of these pictures is like a textile design, be it for weaving, for embroidery or for patchwork. She herself describes this blaze of colors much better with her words:
“The incomparable colors blue – intense indigo and ultramarine, turquoise and cobalt, flaming and dominant when the color covers walls and paths, including stairs and doors. Tanned by the sun and wind in the stages of fading. Sometimes it may be united in blue, the happiness of heaven and earth and ocean ”
“I name the red earth with a tinge of salmon-colored or red-violet, which is transferred as a natural canon of colors from the floor to the walls and gives entire living spaces their multiple modulated harmony. Like velvet and silk in changing light”
From workbook no.3 “BERBERBRAUN. HORIZONTE –Konturen und Zeichen “, published by Atelier Pohl Berlin together with the gallery for contemporary art in the Ratskeller Berlin Lichtenberg. Available from firstname.lastname@example.org
In the main room of the exhibition you can see a foil print with a section of the marble floor of the Palace of the Republic with 18 pictures and objects arranged on it. Including everyday objects such as a kitchen clock and a washboard as well as hand screen prints from the series “Texts on Bags” from 2010, pieces from the series “Money” (1990) and “Political Pearls” (2020) as well as collages made of wood. The whole of a witty but also bitter accusation against stupidity and blindness.
Two works in this exhibition refer to the earlier works of Gertraude Pohl, first the sculpture for the 100th birthday of El Lissitsky made of lacquered plywood from 1990/91 and then the large application work made of artificial silk from 1995. Both works show a clear reference to the Bauhaus, which played an important role in the GDR. In these works I recognize the spirit of this artist, as I got to know and appreciate her in 1984 in an East Berlin art gallery. It must have been one of my first visits to the GDR as a journalist for Textilforum, for which I received permission as a Dutchwoman, whereas Dietmar Laue – who came from Berlin – was refused.
In a recent interview with Sonya Schönberger for the Stadtmuseum Berlin, Gertraude Pohl says a remarkable sentence: “I felt it was fortunate that I sometimes developed the ability to perceive the political events from a distance; to perceive them and was able to comment on them, although that is actually not possible in the time in which it is experienced. ”
That distance she could take was actually one of her skills, which she had both as an artist and as a person. In this manner she introduced myself and Dietmar Laue to GDR textile art. At that time we were the first and probably the only ones who reported on the GDR textile art!
The interview can be seen (only in German)at https://berliner-zimmer.net/interview/ch-usene-kein-artefakt-vom-palast-der- Republik-ich-bin-wahrlik-selber-schon-ein-artefakt/
More information on the exhibition described here can be found in workbook No. 2 “Gertraude Pohl ROOMS. POWER AND LIMITS Installations and pictures. Also available from email@example.com
Beatrijs Sterk 27