Ever so often curators and artists in Berlin declare a pile of tchotchkes for art. If that’s what would give me the right to call myself an artist, I have a whole gallery of fine art at home. Fortunately, there are some real beacons of  hope in the scene like CFA, me Collectors and Peres Projects amongst others that focus on anything but trash art. However, once you start creating and promoting art of a higher class in Berlin, you instantly become target of jealousy, hatred and some losers with unfulfilled dreams.

Paul Vogeler, the mastermind behind The New Berlin Painters experienced the power of jealousy himself during a shitstorm surrounding the publication of their manifesto. Berlin might be the most international city in Germany, but it still remains a German capital and once some kids from New York start criticizing the sacred Berlin art scene, moods begin to change. However, The New Berlin Painters keep their eyes on the high road and say in their manifesto that besides the fact that “ideas are cheap and conceptual art is dead”, “they don’t seek to be clever” and “don’t support unjust war”

Finally someone in the Berlin art scene doesn’t take themselves way too seriously. That’s maybe the best part of the core of what makes The New Berlin Painters unique. I’m personally keeping my doubts and critical look on their development. I’m excited to see whether Paul Vogeler and Moritz Hoffmann will actually be able to revolutionize the art scene and show the snobs that art can be dealt with differently and prove to the gay mafia that straight guys are not less creative.

I visited Paul’s studio which is also currently his flat where he lives with his girlfriend. My first impression: Smell of paint, huge paintings leant onto the walls and a leather whip and handcuffs tied to the frame of the bed. We talk about the upcoming exhibition, the sex toys and what he misses most from home. More details on the exhibition after the interview.

How’s the work going on the exhibition?

Great! We just finished installing the show yesterday, for the most part.  There are a few “surprises” in the gallery as well, and we are very excited to be able to present our paintings with stattberlin.

How did you come up with the idea for the exhibition?

It was a mutual idea that started between 3 friends.  One left for her own reasons, and Moritz and I continued on.  Moritz and I feel a bit more radical.  We not only want to have a painting exhibition, but we really want to SAY something.  We are pretty serious about painting and its power.  Thats why we wrote this manifesto of our ideas, which is really just a sort of statement, and have been working very hard to bring the exhibition to fruition.

How did you meet Moritz?

Moritz and I went to SVA in New York together, but we really weren’t friends there.  I thought when I first saw him ” who is this asshole with paint stained paints and a black beret?” He always wears a beret, which earned him the nickname frenchie in the German hip-hop scene.  But our friendship really took off when he surprised me at my exhibition with Styx Projects in October 2010.  We immediately connected and shared incredible similar ideas about painting and the art world.  Even though our personalities and painting styles are very different, we agree on so many things.  Especially artistic ideals.

Tell me more about your experience with the art media powerhouse that is Nadja Sayej from ArtStars*

Nadja is amazing.  She has a big heart and is full of energy.  She is like the person Jack Kerouac writes about in On The Road , one who is mad to live, crazy, and full of energy and life.  That is Nadja, and we were both drawn to that energy.  She is smart as a whip, so we all met, and decided to team up forces.  She believes in us, and has introduced us to believers as well.  Every artist I think has their believers.  In the beginning when you have nothing, and are hopeless, its simple words from these people that help you get back into the studio, and continue on with the insanity of creation.

Do you have a circle of artists friends in Berlin? What are your experiences with the scene?

I have one person here I would call a mentor, and a small circle of artist friends, all with differing opinions of art, naturally.  But we all make work and meet for openings, dinner, drinking, etc.  The scene here is huge, and because of that, so much art is brought to be seen.  There are so many project spaces.  Which is good, because everything gets a chance to present, but bad, because, well, there is a lot of crap! i have found the galleries here more receptive to new people and ideas, and willing to talk to artists who come in with an invitation or portfolio.  You would never get that in NYC.  In a wierd paradox, people are more serious about art here, and their craft, but at the same time more laid back in ways..

Your paintings are pretty dark – where do you get inspiration for them?Who are the people in the shadows?

My paintings come from dark places inside me many times.  Also Berlin is cold, and I am obsessed with the way light creates these atmospheres in these parks here in Berlin, especially Homboldthain in Wedding.  I paint there in the open very often, even in the rain, and bring the pieces back to my house to review for larger pieces.  The inpiration from my work comes from inside and outside.  Many times I just see an image or the way light hits something, I think that would make a great painting.  Most of the time I don’t know what I am doing or why I am making it.  I just follow my intuition you know? And then I know when to stop working.

On a more personal note, from the moment I entered your studio/apartment, I couldn’t help but see the leather whip and handcuffs. What’s up with them? 

Haha I can’t believe you saw those! Ask my girlfriend.

Is there anything you miss from New York or even from Ohio here in Berlin?

Yes, nothing really about the art scene! Mostly food, and of course my family and friends, who I haven’t seen in almost 2 years! In NYC, I miss the 24 hour delis, and eggs and bacon for breakfast at 6am.  Sometimes I miss speaking American English.  In Ohio, just my mom, dad, brother, the dog, and the bird.  And my man van.

Where are you going after this interview?

Gonna go get some Brunch at Morgenrot in Prenzlauer Berg.  No bacon and eggs, but some nice vegetarian stuff, and you pay what you want.  In my studio, I will be going back really intensely into exploring the figure, its time!

The New Berlin Painters show opens at 19h on June 8, 2012 at Statt Berlin, Lottum Strasse 1, 10119. RSVP

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  1. dan

    “Finally someone in the Berlin art scene doesn’t take themselves way too seriously.”

    SAY WHAT?… sorry, not sure where you coming from… what a joke… open your eyes, read a little… don t just write stuff…, think first!…
    and… well may be… read your own interview?
    “… We not only want to have a painting exhibition, but we really want to SAY something. We are pretty serious about painting and its power. …”

    interesting how little your interview is about art and painting, but rather about the art scene and the stylistics of being an ‘artist’ today…
    how very ‘unsnobbish’ of you… would love to comment on the guy you were interviewing… but your interview says so little about him… and so much about yourself…

    You Rule…!… blogging must be fun.

  2. Christo Author

    Hi Dan,

    Blogging is fun indeed. Especially when there is someone who gives me shit about what I write.

    Let me be clear: I like the idea that Paul and Moritz are not taking themselves too seriously, however it may be only my personal feeling when I met them. If you meet them and talk to them, you can see for yourself if they’re full of shit or not. As I say in the intro. I am keeping a critical eye on thhose new Berlin painters… so don’t think I am taking everything too lightheartedly.

    And yes, I wanted to make an interview about the scene, so I did. Everything else on the artist you can read on ArtStars anyway. ;)

  3. The New Berlin Papers: Moritz Hoffmann | Grateful Grapefruit ©

    […] Back in June, when the weather was almost as shitty as it is now, but the hope for warmer days and sun sounded more real than deluded, I felt thankful for a mixup in the Berlin art scene. The twist came from two painters, who happened to be friends and wanted to take on Berlin with their art without sounding too pretentions or overdosing on the ass kissing. This of course upset many members of different art circles for not obeying the ground rules. However, I personally found a (in the best meaning of the words) naive and childishly curious approach a very brave thing to do and oboviously, it worked. […]

  4. norbert wessel

    tonight (09.08.2015) I was looking tagesschau 24 and the feature of paul vogeler. I love his paiting. Who can tell me where i can see more of them or even buy some ?!

    Thank you for mailing oder call me 02133-62830 Dormagen, Germany.

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