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A late discovery

Finally, Berlin sees its first solo exhibition of iconic Romanian artist Geta Brătescu. It's on through Jan 25 at n.b.k.

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Jens Ziehe/Photographie

Neuer Berliner Kunstverein

Finally, Berlin sees its first solo exhibition of iconic Romanian artist Geta Brătescu.

One of the most important conceptual artists in Eastern Europe and beyond, Geta Brătescu worked under communism in Romania for most of her career, until the regime’s collapse in 1989. For her, the big international breakthrough came late in life; only in 2017 she got to represent Romania at the Venice Biennale. The current solo show at n.b.k. is her first in Berlin, displaying drawings, collages and graphic works she produced between 1970 and 2018. Albeit limited to the mod-est showroom and one adjoining wall, the exhibition manages to convey the breadth of themes Brătescu’s avant-garde work engages with, including gender, cultural and personal memory and the artistic exploration of identity. In Woman and Bird (2007), a series of drawings she produced with her eyes closed, the bird motif can be read as a symbol for self-liberation – both as an artist escaping censorship and convention, and as a female subject. Her collage “The Traveller”, consists of drawings, cut outs from old issues of National Geographic and envelopes addressed to her husband. Heavy with meaning, it reads: “the bloom that beguiles you explodes, obliterates”. n.b.k. provides little additional text, but a 30 minute film about Brătescu’s creative process, shot in her studio earlier this year, functions as a window into her work space and life. It leaves you with the illusion of Brătescu’s presence: “My gestures are the drawing,” she says. Brătescu passed away at age 92 in September – only a few days before the opening of this relatively small but significant show.

Through Jan 25