The Berlin-based artist Norbert Bisky is confined like the rest of us. Just steps away from his apartment, though, is his studio—his solace, his happy place. Inside, Bisky paints daily to keep a sense of balance in his life. And outside, the empty streets of Berlin offer unannounced details he once overlooked but is appreciating now.
On May 11, Galerie Templon re-opened in Paris, allowing supporters back in for a closer look at some of its exhibitions—including Bisky’s. On view through May 23 is the artist’s latest show entitled “Desmadre Berlin,” digging deep into a world of hedonism and anarchy. Still found on the German capital’s walls today, traces of this period are still ever-present, and in this exhibition, Bisky shows that.
Taking a look back to Germany during the 1920s, specifically during the Weimar Republic, Bisky combined his personal trauma and obsession over the uncertainty of today. The juxtaposition is a dual-faceted world we see in every joyful, gloomy, and all-around apocalyptic illusion in Bisky’s work.
Whitewall spoke with Bisky to hear how he’s staying inspired in Berlin, what he’s been reading and watching, and what he’s gearing up to present next.
WW: How are you doing during this time of confinement?
NORBERT BISKY: I am doing okay. Luckily, my studio is just around the corner from my apartment. So, I go there every day and work.
WW: What are you listening to, reading, watching?
NB: My favorite albums at the moment are “Reminiscence” by Jonas Saalbach and “Kiwanuka” by by Michael Kiwanuka. I read books by Ocean Vuong and watched Hunters with Al Pacino.
WW: What are you cooking?
NB: I don’t cook at all; I just eat bread and fresh stuff from the supermarket. I do miss the Thai restaurant in the neighborhood a lot!
WW: How are you staying connected?
NB: Through my phone, like everybody, I guess. Love the life stories and talks with artists on Instagram provided by various galleries…
WW: How are you staying creative?
NB: What is creativity? It is about painting every day, keeping my eyes open and staying sensitive to my surroundings. It helps to turn off the news for a few hours.
The empty streets of Berlin look sad and strange these days, but it is a chance to discover details of the city that I would look past otherwise.
WW: Are you able to make work at this time?
NB: I need to work to be a relaxed and confident person. So, I paint. Otherwise I would totally get out of balance these days. When the shutdown is over, I want to have some new paintings finished. Right now, I am preparing my next show for Tokyo, hopefully it will happen in time.
WW: Where are you finding hope or inspiration?
NB: All our ancestors had to cope with much tougher circumstances. My grandparents survived two wars. So, let’s be brave and face the situation. There will be another summer. Definitely.