As visitors enter an unlit room in Wentrup Gallery, a former 1950s couture factory in Kreuzberg, they are exposed to the magical works of French-Moroccan artist Hicham Berrada. Specialising in contemporary art and installations, Berrada typically makes use of reacting chemicals in a creative and artistic way to produce visually spectacular masterpieces. Subsequent to his previously outstanding work, this new exhibition entitled Caverne does not fail to impress visitors. On entering, the initial room is pitch black save for a mesmerising video installation Oiseaux 2014 projected onto the entirety of one of the walls. Combining nature and artifice, the video depicts a peaceful twilight scene of the garden of Villa Medici (where Berrada spent one year in residence); while low-flying birds circle a light in the centre of the scene, silhouetted trees frame the twilight sky. The effect is calming and hypnotic, and somehow instils in its audience a stillness and peace of mind. This is assumed to be the intended outcome, as Berrada purposefully evokes a paradise here, along with an idea of an ideal world.
Furthermore, in agreeance with this particular ambience, an installation Mesk Ellilé 2015 consists of a geometric glass tube encasing a night-blooming jasmine positioned under a dim blue light. The strategic lighting effect with specific application of water and heat causes the Mediterranean plant to bloom, which in turn creates beautifully intricate silhouetted patterns on the ground around it that interrupt the hazy blue light from above. The result is enticing and stunning.
In addition to these installations, several still photographs are also featured in the exhibition. Each photograph taken abstractedly portrays a different chemical element such as iron, copper and nickel reacting underwater. Sorted soil, Copper 2014 is positioned in the dark room with the other installations, and a similar blue light is directed onto the photograph giving it a kind of obscurity that makes it difficult for the viewer to make out exactly what it is. However seeing Sorted soil, Nickel 2015 and Sorted soil, Iron 2015 in full light, it becomes apparent that these photographs are very obscure and unidentifiable anyway. Fantastic patterns, shapes and textures are expressed with so much depth of colour and light that these eye-catching photographs appear three-dimensional. Overall, it is a fascinating exhibition.
Caverne will be at Wentrup Gallery until 16th January 2016 and is well worth a visit!
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