From the seeds of letters we built our Eden. There we drew the depths of wisdom. In the end, we did demolish the order. Burning ashes of the Pishon river no longer provided crumbs of water in the garden of delights. The golden calf shall exasperate no one. The New shall not come. All the purification ash dried out. It was others who said – let us create the hell of civilization – in the land of Havilah only gold will do. They shall not find the missing letter there, they shall not quench their thirst.

My reflections on art, collectors, marchers and contemporary art auctions

Restart of the art fairs

Even in difficult times, the Berlin Art Week forms a platform for the art trade. Starting today, Positions, Paper Positions and Photo Basel are three fairs showing what more than 130 galleries are currently offering

Without the backing of the scene, the Berlin Positions, like so many other trade fairs, would probably not exist this year. has been canceled since March for fear of the corona pandemic that brings art and the public together in a small space A fair with around 130 galleries and thousands of visitors - that still seems hardly feasible at first glance.

Kristian Jarmuschek and Heinrich Carstens, the directors of Positions, for this year's Art Week nevertheless dared And the number of applicants alone should have confirmed the two: more than 300 galleries would have liked to have been there when the fair in the hangars of the former Tempelhof Airport opened its doors this Thursday. There are now 130 participants - and it has become a great event, despite or maybe because of the current Covid 19 restrictions.

There are larger stands and more choice because a second fair, Paper Positions, which was postponed to Berlin Art Week from spring, has been added. In addition, Photo Basel was invited to Berlin - a small, fine satellite fair that usually accompanies Art Basel with photographic positions in June. With this decision, the range not only expands to include established Swiss and French galleries, but also to include the names of Barbara Klemm, Roger Ballen and Boris Mykhailov. Above all, however, the doubling of the area on which the Positions previously took place at the same location gives the art plenty of room to work. The densely packed sales booths have become airy places in which many things now appear like a curated exhibition. A development that raises the trade fair to a new level. Luckily on the site are also the spacious open spaces that can be used for outdoor sculptures and open-air events.

Positions also mastered the test run called "Behind the Scenes" with ease, to which almost a hundred collectors were invited on the evening before the actual opening to take a look around in advance. And with visible success, which is reflected in the first red dots on the works that have been sold. The Thomas Fuchs gallery in Stuttgart seems to have been almost overrun: all the paintings by the two artists Mona Ardeleanu and Yongchul Kim have already been sold; plus a large portrait of Rainer Fetting. But there is also a wide range of offerings beyond such young, hyped talents, thanks to galleries such as Almacén from Tel Aviv, the Meno Niša Gallery from Vilnius or the Munich art dealer Kunkel Fine Art, which this time is also presenting contemporary fashion drawings in addition to Otto Dix and Lotte Laserstein. Alexander Och's Private from Berlin boasts cryptic works by Via Lewandowsky, while Nanna Preussner's (Hamburg) shows Angela Glajcar demonstrating how deep cuts can be used to create sculptures out of paper. Eiko Borcherding, who is represented by the art dealer Hubertus Hoffschild (Lübeck), draws in the style of the old masters and yet makes his sheets look like contemporary notations.

50 galleries alone fill the walls of Paper Positions, which deals with art on and made of paper. And here, too, one is surprised to see a positive trend: important newcomers such as Michael Haas (Berlin/Zurich), Thomas Schulte or Galerie König, both of whom are based in Berlin, are among the loyal exhibitors.

These new alliances have to do not least with the abandonment of the competitor, Art Berlin, which took place in the adjacent hangar until 2019. A loss that seemed difficult to compensate in advance: both trade fairs have benefited from each other in the past. Nevertheless, Jarmuschek and Carstens managed to set up a high-quality, attractive and diverse trade fair. With art by veterans such as Richard Serra or Walter Stöhrer (Galerie Nothelfer), Gerhard Altenbourg (Galerie Brusberg) or Hartmut Böhm (drj art projects). But also with unusual positions that Blow Up Press (Warsaw), the Lübeck art dealer Hoffschild or the Slovenian Galerija Fotografija bring with them with photos by the artist DK, who was born in 1970.

This rounds off the offer to form a coherent overall picture. With a painting by Franziska Maderthaner, whose monstrous floral plants are being shown by the Brennecke Fine Art gallery in Berlin. Or the austere lithograph in black and white that the American sculptor Richard Serra created in 1990 and that is offered by the Nothelfer gallery. A gouache hangs on the stand of the White Square Gallery, on which H. M. Davringhausen immortalized a crouching figure in 1938 - more in the style of a magical realist than in the tradition of New Objective painting of the 1920s, for which the Aachen native also stood. A fantastic drawing by Gerhard Altenbourg entitled “Summer Sprouts, Summer Sprouts” from 1989 can be found at the Brusberg Gallery. And Hilgemann Art has a donkey made of fabric by Stephen Wilks, which appears again and again in the work of the British artist.

Kristian Jarmuschek sees this strong appearance of three art fairs for the 20th and 21st centuries as a "signal for autumn". In fact, the Berlin Art Week, which was also launched to strengthen the metropolis' art trade with cultural sidekicks, would be a bit poorer without that commitment. With the two editions of Positions and the - perhaps not unique - appearance of Photo Basel, the program enriches the Berlin art autumn with an important part, despite all the adversities.