The beautiful Antonio

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In its summer exhibition, Galerie Helle Coppi devotes itself to portraits in painting and sculpture.

18 artists, almost 70 works, and a subject that is rather neglected by contemporary art: the image of the human head. Christoph Bouet has just counterfeited former Federal President Joachim Gauck traditionally in oil for the Berlin House of Representatives.

Bouet’s portrait of a worker in wild, expressive strokes, completed in 2009, welcomes the visitor in the Galerie Helle Coppi: A man with a head bandage and a cigarette as an anonymous hero of everyday life. Most of the artists in this exhibition come from the former GDR; Berlin became their creative center. Coppi’s portrait, a classic discipline of academic training, opens up a broad field that ranges from self-reflection and authentic reproduction to the mirror of society.

With Florian Flierl, co-founder of an art foundry in Weißensee, an iron Heiner Müller looks through his trademark – a pair of spectacles that, however, consists only of the eyeglasses. Katharina Gerold has silhouettes in painted clay grow out of the wall, which double thanks to sophisticated lighting. The engobed terracotta bust of the beautiful “Antonio” by Robert Metzkes, on the other hand, presents itself in full authenticity. Senior Harald Metzkes, who was not an adept of Socialist Realism in Eastern times, takes us to a picturesque world theatre in the costume of the characters of the Commedia dell’arte.

Elfriede Jelinek became a model

For Wieland Förster, Elfriede Jelinek became the model, the bronze with the author’s striking hairdo was created as a character head after photographs. With gauze and ash, Jinran Kim draws the physiognomies of Beckett and Beuys, Tolstoy and Karl Marx that have become icons. The portrait is for the South Korean artist, who was a guest in the Church of St. Matthew at the Kulturforum in 2015 and who depicted Berlin in grisailles as a landscape of ruins, a mysterious landscape whose cliffs become the folds of human existence.

Ellen Fuhr, who died in 2017, also referred to historical personalities in her poetry series “Without Words” with the shadowy faces of Fernando Pessoa or Elvis Presley. Marc Taschowsky from Frankfurt uses a famous portrait of Goethe as the basis for his large-format close-up painting. In the case of Klaus Süß, once a member of the nonconformist Chemnitz group Clara Mosch, the human head unfolds in a surreal, enigmatic way in the woodblock print.

A radical, bizarre introspection

Michael Arantes-Müller’s graphics take us to the “Island of Utopia”, where they print masks of the “primitives” on paper, as it were. Bettina Moras takes the three-quarter portrait, her women look at the viewer thoughtfully. In her self-portraits, Sibylle Prange follows in the footsteps of Berlin impressionist Sabine Lepsius despite all the selfies. Gerd Sonntag, a student of Harald Metzkes and Theo Balden, who has been using the transparent as a material for over 20 years to fuse painting and sculpture like an alchemist, goes to the glassworks. Thus, the Weimar-born artist paints with and on the glass for his radical, bizarre inner view, which at the same time makes the artistic process transparent. His coloured, three-dimensional relief heads, which shimmer according to the incidence of light, are products of elaborate work processes, whereby Sonntag deliberately leaves the fixing wires of the glass distillery standing like a drawn network of lines as the veins of the head. The prices of the exhibited works range between 450 and 43,000 euros.
(Gallery Helle Coppi, Auguststr. 83; from 16. 7.-2. 8., Tu-Fr 13-18 o’clock, Sa 12-18 o’clock)

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Mette Frederiksen is a The Washington Newsday correspondent. With her coverage of general science, NASA and the interface between technology and society, Frederiksen has been in the Science Desk's Technology Beat since joining Washington Newsday in 2018.

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