Boys, Boys, Boys
The new exhibition in the gallery "Boys, Boys, Boys" is a logical continuation of the series started last year with the exhibition "Girls, Girls, Girls." But whereas that exhibition featured artists of both genders, this one is confined to the specifically male view of the subject matter, with the (homo-)erotic element playing an important role in many cases. All artists, furthermore, are based in Berlin, bestowing the exhibition a nice sense of cohesion despite the stylistic variety. The scope of the exhibition extends from representatives of the so-called "Junge Wilde" (a group of Berlin painters that acquired fame in the early 1980s with their large-scale figurative paintings in a very gestural neo-expressionist style) – Rainer Fetting, Salomé and Luciano Castelli – to their slightly later-born contemporary from East-Berlin, Sven Marquardt – to Jörn Grothkopp who represents a younger generation of Berlin artists.
The homo-erotic aspect in man of the exhibited works simultaneously has a decidedly political background, for it was associated with counter-cultural movements in both West-Berlin and East-Berlin during the 1980s. Salomé and Fetting had both moved to Berlin from West-Germany, for Berlin occupied an exceptional position both politically and culturally in Germany in the 1970s and 80s. Both were active in the gay movement of West-Berlin as well as Kreuzberg's thriving Punk music scene. (In 1980, Salomé and Castelli founded the Punk band "Geile Tiere", and in 1982, together with Fetting, they went on a performance tour through France.) It follows that all three artists were prominently featured in the large and very successful exhibition "The 80s. Figurative Painting in West Germany" mounted at the reputable Städel Museum (Frankfurt am Main) in 2015. Also during the 1980s, but on the other side of the Berlin Wall, Sven Marquardt documented, with his photographs, the subculture of East Berlin, particularly the gay and the punk scene that existed there, too, and that he was a part of. This at times earned him the suspicion and surveillance by the Stasi, the notorious East German secret police. Even though most of the works exhibited date from recent years, this background is crucial for understanding the emotional intensity of the paintings and photographs. It is particularly apparent in comparison to the paintings by Jörn Grothkopp, whose formative years as an artist all happened long after the Berlin Wall was torn down, and whose nudes have a much more objective and distant feel to them.