Just as the renovations and preparations for the grand opening of König Galerie were approaching its end, we met up with Johann König to find out more about his new art space in the former community center and church St. Agnes. This monumental brutalist church was redesigned by Arno Brandlhuber to become an 800-square-meter exhibition space, which will regularly host two parallel shows in two separate spaces. With its latest addition, St. Agnes is opening again as a center for arts and culture.
Even before the space at St. Agnes officially became the König Galerie, you had a few shows here in the past couple of years. In the meantime, some major changes have been made - what exactly is new and different than before?
It is being fully adapted for regular shows. With storage facility, bigger workbase, heating… We are going to do very big substantial exhibitions upstairs, which will run for two months. Downstairs in the smaller space we are going to do quick, more frequent shows. Smaller projects. Every four weeks another show.
The sculpture garden will be changing every season. The garden architecture should be finished in September. In the future I think it will be always one session from March until fall, and the next year another session.
What can you tell us about the inaugural show?
These are large-scale paintings by Katharina Grosse, which are somehow in dialogue with her presentation at the 57th VeniceBiennale this year, and with the Moscow Garage Museum installation. What she is known for is working in three-dimensional pace, such as spray-painting the floor, the ceiling,and so on, and she is also doing that on canvas. We are showing paintings in the size 4x4 to 4x8 meters. It is strictly a painting show.
What comes after this exhibition?
The program for now for upstairs is Katharina Grosse, Camille Henrot, Nathan Hylden, and Tatiana Trouve. Until March next year. It should give a monographic idea of the work. Katharina will show four to six big paintings, Camille Henrot is doing a big exhibition with several pieces, andTatiana is going to do everything new for the show. Allof those are large-scale exhibitions, I would say.
At the space downstairs it will be Jeppe Hein, Johannes Wohnseifer, Daniel Turner. After that it is not clear yet.
At Dessauer Strasse space we have a group show now. It is called "Material", and it is a show on material driven work; from bronze, to marble, gold, copper, zink, steel, glass… All kinds of materials. From Isa Genzken, to Oscar Tuazon, to Tony Cragg. It is a thirty-artist group show.
Who is the main curator here?
The artists do what they want. I propose the frame and infrastructure, and I generally leave a lot of freedom to the artists in their decisions. It is a dialogue, but it is their choice.
What are your long-term plans for this gallery?
The only thing worth mentioning is the sculpture garden. But of course, the whole complex is a project in itself. With this cafe, with PRAXES next door, the exhibition spaces, 032c magazine in the first floor, Green Box Publishing, the New York University studios, an architect office… It is a cultural hub with the focus on art.
And now it is a fully finished project?
Once this is finished, the complex is finished. There will be the offices, and I guess apartment in the tower, and then it is done.
How do you get along with the neighbors in the complex so far? Are you considering collaborative work?
Yes, we all do things together. That is why we were very careful in deciding who we work with here. Eventually we are going to build something on the parking lot, because there is free land, but we are not sure yet. Now it would be good to take a breath and focus on art again.
Anything else you would like to add?
Worth mentioning is that we are going to be open on Sundays. That is something different from the other galleries. We are going to be open from 13h to 18h, which also coincides with the working hours of the cafe. They are going to offer breakfast on Sundays, and we have the shows available for viewing.
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König Galerie / ST. AGNES
Alexandrinnenstr. 118–121, 10969 Berlin, U Prinzenstr.