Exhibited Artists: Lutz Driessen, Thomas Grötz, Tine Furler, Stephan Jung, Isabel Kerkermeier, Ulrich Lamsfuß, Thomas Rentmeister, Andreas Rüthi, Jan Scharrelmann, Matthias Schaufler, Anja Schwörer, Vincent Tavenne, Ina Weber, Jens Wolf, Daniela Wolfer, Johannes Hüppi, Iskender Yediler
Bill Adams, Suse Bauer, Tim Bruening, André Butzer, Philip Emde, Martin Gostner, Thomas Grünfeld, Simon Hemmer, Johannes Hüppi, Hans-Jörg Mayer, Edie Monetti, Alois Mosbacher, Yuji Nagai, Joe Neave, Hartmut Neumann, Rade Petrasevic, Markus Selg, René Spitzer, Hiroki Tsukuda, Willem Weismann, Iskender Yediler, Josef Zekoff
25th Anniversary of Galerie Hammelehle und Ahrens Cologne/Baden-Baden
Stuttgart. In the 1980s and 90s, the Swabian metropolis was one of the centres, not only of German pop culture, but also of the German cultural scene. Galleries and artists who are household names today began their careers there – and right at the forefront were the “Fantastische Zwei” (fantastic twosome, almost as famous as the hip-hoppers with the similar name), Bernd Hammelehle und Sven O. Ahrens.
They willingly sacrificed their own artistic careers for the sake of the art of their dear colleagues. With a fine instinct for the power of the brush-stroke and the smell of paints still in their nostrils, the gallery concentrated mostly on painting. Although their brief but intensive studies with Georg Herold taught them the analysis of post-social sculpture and thus became their permanent, very highly set, measuring bar. The close artistic contact with Martin Kippenberger kept reverberating as their school of life. The more radical, the better.
From sitting room to “Beletage”
Everything started in 1994 with the first solo exhibition of the sculptor Stefan Kern in Bernd Hammelehle’s hastily cleared sitting room. Nothing holds faster than a temporary solution: 20 further exhibitions were to follow, amongst those with works by Ina Weber, Vincent Tavenne, Matthias Schaufler, Martin Kippenberger, Stephan Jung, Tobias Rehberger, Martin Gostner, Markus Oehlen and André Butzer/Markus Selg. In 1996, the gallery finally moved into larger new rooms in the first floor, the so-called
“Beletage” of a mid-19 th century house in Hohenstaufenstrasse. From the background of their own artistic training and with a view towards independent contemporary positions in painting and sculpture of German provenance, a clearly defined gallery-programme developed through the consistent collaboration with the artists. It has been constantly consolidated and expanded to this day, with 30 gallery-publications and cooperative projects.
From Neckar to Rhine
In 2002 the gallery moved to Cologne. The new address: “An der Schanz
1a”, a former electric power substation from the 1970s. The formerly windowless facade was fitted with transparent skylights. The concrete cube was thus transformed into its new intended use with simple measures. The formerly hermetically sealed concrete monolith was cleverly re-designed into a multi-story gallery-building by Bernd Kniess of b&k+. It became known by the abbreviated “ads1a” and received several awards for its new design. The gallery building currently houses the galleries Berthold Pott, kuk Krupic Kersting and the design-studio von Monkiewitsch, alongside
Galerie Hammelehle und Ahrens.
In Cologne, the gallery consistently continued with its programme. Further artists from the Rhineland joined the big artist-family. Many individual and group exhibitions followed, amongst these Thomas Arnolds, Lutz Driessen, Jan Scharrelmann, Tim Berresheim/Jonathan Meese, Jens Wolf, Martha Jungwirth/Albert Oehlen/Matthias Schaufler, Thomas Rentmeister, Anja Schwörer and Thomas Grötz. The two gallerists found and activated new spaces for art, above and beyond the classic exhibitions in the white cube of the gallery. Examples of these are the “Private Project Space”, which combined a radical living-concept with semi-public artistic presentation, as well as their part in the conception of the now-legendary exhibitions, multimedia and concert projects in the concrete-brutalist St. Gertrud church by Gottfried Böhm in Krefelder Strasse in Cologne.
From the metropolis on the Rhine to cosmopolitan hub of the South
In their enthusiasm for experimental concepts for presentation, the two gallerists delightedly accepted the offer of the upper floor of the internationally successful shoe-manufactory Vickermann & Stoya in Baden-Baden. The fashionably eccentric Black Forest spa town, which self-confidently calls itself the “smallest metropolis in the world”, immediately presented itself as an attractive setting for the subversively radical approach of the gallery’s programme. The charming salon atmosphere of the space and the smell of leather and real handicraft – and the Black Forest liquors which are frequently served – has made it a popular port of call, not only for locals but also for tourists and old friends of the gallerists. The vicinity of Karlsruhe, Stuttgart and the Alsace have caused new ideas and collaborations – such as working with the artist Johannes Hüppi – to evolve quasi organically. Returned to the south of Germany, in cultured surroundings and with a new interesting and interested public from all over the world at its doorstep, the space in the town on the river Oos now functions as a successful branch of the Cologne venue.
The two gallerists are united in their close friendship to this day. They have proven themselves to be each other’s best sparring partners. They now celebrate their anniversary with the exhibition “#haah25”. An exhibition of works on paper which extends far beyond the programme of the gallery and which presents a new generation of artists with a platform, has been put together, as ever, “in dialogue with youth“, in close cooperation with Alexander Warhus.
Sven O. Ahrens says about this anniversary exhibition: “loosely quoting Martin Kippenberger, our motto is: the more, the better”. And Bernd Hammelehle adds: “Just don’t listen to my business partner”.