Latest from Peter Berthoud

Unique Gallery Well Worth Sniffing Out in Church Street Market NW8

02-March-2012 0:00
in Art & Architecture
by Peter Berthoud

A unique new gallery has just opened in Church Street, NW8.

But you'll need to be quick if you want to see its one and only show. This gallery will close for good on March 24th this year.

Why unique? Well "gallery owner" Dimitri Palagkas is on a mission. He brings work by well-established artists to disused venues in the heart of different London communities. Church Street in St John's Wood is thus currently playing home to new works by the celebrated German artist Marcus Weber.

Marcus Weber - "G-Park (Gelber Hund)" Detail
Marcus Weber - "G-Park (Gelber Hund)" Detail

Dimitri works to a really demanding schedule. First he works with the artist to plan the show, then he sets out to find a venue that perfectly suits the artist's work.

So in Church street he has chosen to use an abandoned flooring shop mainly because the floor surface of this particular  shop precisely matches the paving surface used by park authorities in Berlin! Many of the paintings in the show are set in Berlin parks, so this all makes sense, but what incredible lengths to go to!

Marcus Weber Floor

Around the edges of the floor the original hard surface gives way to recently scattered loose pulses and seeds, reminiscent both of bird seed (birds being a recurrent theme in the paintings) and of the bustling food market that lies just beyond the gallery's door.  Such attention to detail ensures that all of his shows are genuinely engaging; they are connected both to the local community and connected to the work.

Marcus Weber Floor detail

Dimitri's wandering gallery has cropped up three times now in London. I first encountered him at the old Pimlico Library exhibition  by Julia Oschatz.  Many more spontaneous and temporary shows are planned, the next will be in Bermondsey. Where precisely? Well, because of his meticulous venue selection policy Dimitri doesn't yet know, he never does, until, on average, just two weeks before a show opens!

The current Marcus Weber show FetaFantaFatima is full of exhuberant, bright, light observations of his native Berlin. Heavily applied oil on canvas, a cartoon like quality, twisted perspectives and their sheer scale (most are around 2m square) and the superb venue, conspire to demand the viewer's attention.

Marcus Weber fetafantafatima

Marcus Weber fetafantafatima

Marcus Weber fetafantafatima

Marcus Weber "G-Park (Gelber Hund)"

Dimitri Palagkas runs a genuinely"inclusive" and not an "exclusive" gallery. He offers a welcome to all and not just a smarm-fest based around the expectations of wealthy collectors.

Dimitri is on hand for every single day of every one of his shows. Charming, passionate about the work on show and above all genuinely welcoming, he engages with his local communities in a way I have not seen anywhere else.

When I visited last night I saw him welcome regulars from the local pub, a young girl on a scooter and her Dad and a woman who wished she could retire from her late-night retail job. Oh and he had also just sold another piece at a price I could not afford.

Just don't say "pop-up" in front of him and you'll be fine. For Dimitri's shows are not naff modish "pop-ups" but fully-fledged temporary exhibitions, precisely matching work to space in a uniquely sensitive way.

Opening hours:
24 February - 24 March 2012
Wednesday to Saturday 12 - 6pm
and by appointment

62 Church Street
St. John's Wood
London NW8 8ET
(nearest tube Edgware Road)

From the catalogue for this show:

Central to the work is the essential hustle and bustle to be found happening on streets and other public spaces, but such a description sounds far more documentary than the worlds of these paintings actually are. The codes of depiction come to life through the radical simplification of this so-called reality, elements of which we recognise in their familiar absurdity. Although, rather than adding weight with the escalating intensity of their visual dialogue, this derisory introspection manages to make light. Thus dreary perspectives of the everyday become amusing insights into Berlin life, where the detritus of human activity is categorised according to whether it is pinned to the floor by a wire trash can or carried around in a plastic bag.

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