Galerie Kornfeld opens an exhibition of works by Natela Iankoshvili and Alexander Adams

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Galerie Kornfeld opens an exhibition of works by Natela Iankoshvili and Alexander Adams
An interesting ‘conversation’ is taking place on the walls of Berlin’s Galerie Kornfeld between the late Georgian painter Natela Iankoshvili and the contemporary British artist/critic Alexander Adams.

by Antonia Gabassi

BERLIN.- There’s an interesting story behind the curation of the latest exhibition at the Galerie Kornfeld, in the resurgent City West region of the German capital.

The show is called ‘The Day I Never Met You’, and it is a billed as being a ‘conversation’ between the contemporary British artist Alexander Adams, and the late Georgian painter Natela Iankoshvili, whose estate is represented by the gallery.

On first viewing one might assume that the painters were chosen because of their differences, rather than their similarities. Adams has renounced colour, painting in black, white and many shades of grey. Iankoshvili – who died in 2007 – loved applying broad brush-stokes of vibrant greens, yellows and blues on black-primed canvases.

But when you look closely into the art and the artists, the similarities abound. Both apply themselves to landscapes and figures; both were heavily influenced by an unconventional compatriot (for Iankoshvili the primitivist artist Niko Pirosmani; for Adams the existentialist figurative painter Francis Bacon). And neither of them represent a good fit for the cultural establishment of their time: Iankoshvili refused to paint in the socialist realism style encouraged by the Soviet regime; Adams completely rejects post-modernism, and – as a critic – denounces many of the ethical tenets of the Anglo-Saxon art world.

The resulting exhibition is a beautiful juxtaposition of styles, as the eye is drawn from the smaller monochrome studies by Adams (his defaced portraits are particularly striking) to the larger, exuberantly colourful frames of Iankoshvili, whose work also calls to mind the dark-edged work of El Greco, with Gauguin – perhaps – choosing the palette.

Adams came to the attention of Galerie Kornfeld after writing a review of the monograph on Natela Iankoshvili, published by Hirmer and written by the gallery’s director Mamuka Bliadze. Bliadze delved into the critic’s work, and was pleasantly surprised to find out that he was also a painter, and that there were so many parallels between his work and Iankoshvili’s that an exhibition would be an extremely engaging project. Before Christmas, Adams received an offer to take part in the show, and it didn’t take long for him to agree. The artist-critic (who is also a published poet) is unable to physically visit the gallery due to Covid restrictions, but is delighted that his paintings have made the journey to a city he knows and loves: he lived in Berlin between 2009 and 2014.

Alexander Adams, Natela Iankoshvili. The Day I Never Met You. Galerie Kornfeld, Fasanenstrasse 26, 10719, Berlin. Until July 31.

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