Get to Know This Year’s 10 ‘SOLO PROJECTS’ Artists

Words: Chris Erik Thomas.

There is a subtle art to staging an art fair booth. Removed from the comfort of the gallery spaces they call home, gallerists must take on the herculean task of choosing which pieces by which artists to display for fairgoers. While sometimes, the answer may be to bring works by as many artists as possible, there is also a second route that we aim to celebrate at this year’s fair: the solo show.

For Art Düsseldorf 2023, we are introducing a new section called SOLO PROJECTS to highlight galleries that wish to present an outstanding solo presentation by a single artist. Not only does this allow for a strong statement from a singular position, but it also provides art lovers a chance to dive deep into the artist’s oeuvre.

Ahead of the fifth edition of Art Düsseldorf, we invite you to scroll through and get to know the artists who will take part in the SOLO PROJECTS section.

Morgaine Schaefer. "Archiv No. 2301, Pose-1." Ink Jet Print. 100x80cm. 2016. Courtesy fiebach, minninger.

Morgaine Schäfer (fiebach, minninger)

Though the gallery began in Cologne in 2000, it was in 2015 that co-founders Anja Minninger and Henning Fiebach reorientated their focus toward uplifting young artists. This focus continues through to their plans for Art Düsseldorf 2023. The artist Morgaine Schäfer will present a series of photographs on the difficulties of womanhood and migration, and a new interpretation of personal family photos from the 1970s and 1980s.

Schäfer also builds upon a strong connection to the Rhineland; she studied at Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, receiving the Ehrenhof Prize in 2017 for her final presentation, “Westen-wschód,” and now works and lives in both Düsseldorf and Cologne. Across her range of work, there is a clear focus on origin and history, and roles in culture, religion, and family — all tied together by the core theme of womanhood.

Birgit Brenner. "Sold The Night As Day IV." Courtesy EIGEN + ART.

Birgit Brenner (EIGEN + ART)

Since 1983, the Leipzig- and Berlin-based Galerie EIGEN + ART has worked to highlight a range of positions from over 37 international artists. Among their roster is the Ulm-born artist Birgit Brenner, who will represent the gallery at Art Düsseldorf 2023 under the thematic focus of Sustainability.

For decades, the artist has used her oeuvre to investigate such topics as ecology, the economy, and social issues like injustice, digitalization, the environment, and dystopia. What seems beautiful and harmless at first glance turns into painful criticism a blink of an eye later. With the freedom to design the booth herself — plus a deepening concern with the destruction of the world — Brenner’s solo show at the fair promises to present an artistic position that deeply targets the most pressing topics facing the modern world.

Photo: © Marcus Schneider, Berlin, 2022.

Harry Leigh (kajetan)

Founded five years ago in 2018, Berlin-based Galerie kajetan is a key part of the new wave of galleries entering the German art scene. To further their mission of elevating underrepresented, mid-career artists, kajetan will present works by American sculptor and minimalist Harry Leigh. Marking the first time Leigh’s work will be shown at a European art fair, the solo presentation promises to introduce an entirely new audience to the airy, minimalist wood sculptures.

Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, the American artist trained under both sculptor and ceramicist Peter Voulkos and painter Richard Pousette-Dart, before settling into sculpture as his primary medium. In the decades since his training, experiments in interacting artistically with space and its lines of movement have led to a strong body of work that deftly balances functionality and aestheticism.

Manuel Graf. "Duncan II," 2022. Bronze. 110x90x35cm. Courtesy Van Horn.

Manuel Graf (Van Horn)

Named after a small village in Texas on the way from El Paso to Marfa, the artist space-turned-gallery has spent over a decade bringing together young and mid-career artists with exciting new perspectives. For Art Düsseldorf’s new SOLO section, the gallery will present works by Bühl-born artist Manuel Graf.

Graf’s work will center upon the locomotive — specifically its status as a metaphor for progress from the past — while utilizing cutting-edge technology. Each sculpture’s form is based on text-to-image AI input that has been 3D printed, hand over-molded, and traditionally cast in metal. Together, this process and the resulting pieces are just one part of his ongoing interrogation of such themes as the development of human existence and humanity’s cultural achievements.

Monica Millan. "EncajeYu 2." Courtesy W—Galeriá.

Mónica Millán (W—Galería)

Far, far away in the small village of Yataity, Paraguay, a community of weavers have cultivated the tradition of Ao Poi. At Art Düsseldorf 2023, this technique will be on view for an entirely new audience thanks to the work of Mónica Millán. For her solo show with Buenos Aires-based W—Galería, the Argentinian artist will present works made as part of a collaboration with these weavers and embroiderers that began in 2002.

Alongside a series of small textile constructions designed by the artist and executed by the locals with the Ao Poi technique using Yu lac, the presentation will also include drawings, a video installation, and additional textile works.

Marwan Bassiouni, New British Views #6, 2021, pigment print mounted on dibond and framed, 166,5 x 125 cm. Courtesy of the artist and Dürst Britt & Mayhew, The Hague.

Marwan Bassiouni (Dürst Britt & Mayhew)

Since opening their gallery in The Hague in 2015, co-owners Jaring Dürst Britt and Alexander Mayhew have brought diverse new positions to the contemporary art scene — including Swiss photographer Marwan Bassiouni. At this year’s fair, the gallery will present pieces from his New Western Views series taken from 2018 through 2019.

The photographs are a result of Bassiouni’s journey through polders, villages, inner cities, industrial estates, and suburbs in three different countries: The Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and Switzerland. By documenting the landscape from behind the windows of mosques, his series focuses on how Islam has been represented in the West, plus the melding of cultural backgrounds that comes with an emerging Western Islamic identity.

Alwin Lay. "Ein Tropfen Gelb II," 2020. Courtesy KOENIG2 by robbygreif.

Alwin Lay (KOENIG2 by_robbygreif)

Since opening in 2017 as the project space of Christine König Galerie, KOENIG2 by_robbygreif has become a key incubator for young and experimental positions — like those of Cologne-based artist Alwin Lay. Using mediums spanning photography, video, sculpture, and print, his work offers a darkly humorous critique of how image production (especially photography) has influenced our perception and understanding of reality.

His challenging, reality-bending approach will be the focus of his first solo presentation at Art Düsseldorf. Utilizing pieces made between 2019 and 2022, the range of work on view promises to warp perception through materials like transparent acrylic sheets of Diasec — creating a must-see experience that will undoubtedly have guests doubling back for another look throughout the fair.

Fabian Herkenhoener. "Hoax," 2020. Dust, graphite, acrylic, binder, acrylics, pencil, spray paint on canvas. 170x130cm. Photo: Mareike Tocha. Courtesy PRISKA PASQUER GALLERY.

Fabian Herkenhoener (Priska Pasquer)

Fabian Herkenhoener has always had a special connection to the Rhineland. Born and raised in the region, he studied at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf — including under acclaimed artist Tal R — and has lived and worked in Cologne since 2021.

Throughout his career, the artist’s work has tackled abstraction and the malleability of language. As part of a new exhibition in the booth of Cologne-based gallery Priska Pasquer, Herkenhoener will present a series of works tackling sustainability and united by the color red. The selection of paintings will tackle social, socio-historical, and sociological issues, using red to convey everything from pain and passion to revolt and resurrection.

Hans Vandekerckhove. "Martin’s Trees," 2021. Oil on canvas. 170 x 170 cm. Courtesy TATJANA PIETERS.

Hans Vandekerckhove (TATJANA PIETERS)

In the flower district of Ghent, Belgium, the namesake gallery of Tatjana Pieters has established itself as a hub for experimental and overlooked artists. One such name on the roster is Hans Vandekerckhove, a Belgian artist whose oeuvre has translated the natural world and philosophy into stirring paintings. In many pieces, tranquil scenes are undercut by a foreboding sense of tension and desolation.

In the gallery’s solo presentation of his work, a number of paintings will tap into the relationship between humanity and the environment — specifically, nature’s role in maintaining culture. A selection of paintings to be presented was part of the solo exhibition “Walking with Writers,” which was on view at the gallery earlier this year.


Charlotte Klobassa (Zeller van Almsick)

For Vienna-based gallery Zeller van Almsick, a commitment to younger positions in the art world has led them to the work of Austrian artist Charlotte Klobassa. For many years, Klobassa has used a range of mediums to create pieces that blur the boundaries between figurative and abstract art.

The artist translates scribbles into large-scale canvases with her “Scribbles” series, inspired by pieces of paper found in stationery shops. Blown up into such a large size, the works become a celebration of the tension between impulsiveness and compulsiveness.

Art Düsseldorf 2023 will take place at Areal Böhler from March 31 through April 2. For more information on the 95 participating galleries, see our Gallery List and stay tuned for more content on Art Düsseldorf Magazine.

Chris Erik Thomas is the Digital Editor of Art Düsseldorf. They work as a freelance writer and editor in Berlin and focus primarily on culture, art, and media. Their work can also be seen in Highsnobiety, The Face Magazine, and other publications.

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