Julia Knolle, Hey Woman!: Billy Al

Billy Al x Hedi Slimane

Hedi Slimane will be showing his next men’s collection not only during the week of the 58. Grammy Music Awards at the Palladium in Los Angeles, but also together with part one of the designs for women (which is usually shown in Paris in March later this year). The sparkling mind loves shaking up the son, even before Yves Saint Laurent personally brought him into the house ten years ago. After his brilliant side trip to Dior, in 2012 he took over creative direction for men’s and women’s collections. The rumours are about that this season could be the one that celebrates Slimane’s great departure.
The influence of the fact that his studio is in California can be found on the catwalk here and there, references to the local art scene make his trademark. Likewise for SS16, where we discovered the colorful motifs of artist Billy Al Bengston printed on dresses or embroidered with pearls on jackets.

Through January 23 Neuendorf Projects in Berlin will be showing a solo exhibition with the over 80-year old artist Billy Al Bengston. We asked the gallerist, Henri Neuendorf, who initiated the pop-up space on Großbeerenstraße together with his brother Albert a few questions.

How did the collaboration with the artist come about?

The goal was to show an artist of great art historical importance but whose works are still realistically attainable for a young gallery.

Bengston is an artist whose relevance and influence on the American art scene is currently seriously under-appreciated. He was directly responsible for shaping what West Coast and American art is today.

We approached a Berlin-based former dealer and collector to lend us the works for the exhibition and that’s how the exhibition came about. We got the artist’s blessing to proceed with the show and he was very enthusiastic about the project although he wasn’t able to attend the exhibition. Bengston is 81 and traveling these long distances between Hawaii and Berlin is difficult.

What is the focus of the exhibition at Neuendorf Projects?

The exhibition focuses on Bengston’s paintings from the 1980s. The works are influenced by his decision to work from a second studio in Hawaii. The tropical landscapes in the work are a reflection of the surroundings in which he worked.

How long has Neuendorf Projects been around and what is basic concept behind it?

Neuendorf Projects has been around since maybe July 2015. The idea is to show exciting artists that audiences may not be familiar with. This can mean both established and undervalued artists or young, emerging artists.

We currently operate a pop-up format because it’s not as capital-intensive as maintaining and running a fully-fledged gallery program with all of the associated costs and financial risks.

What role does the Berlin location play for the gallery and the artist?

The wonderful thing about Berlin is that it’s a city that allows young people to put together these types of projects relatively inexpensively.

Additionally, the city has an art audience that’s really receptive towards these types of upstart exhibitions and is open to non-traditional formats of showing art. The Bengston show is our first exhibition and at the opening we had a full house, great feedback and interest from collectors.

I wouldn’t say Bengston has a great deal to do with Berlin apart from the inclusion of his work in the West Coast art retrospective that travelled to the Martin Gropius Bau in 2012, his work is inextricably linked to the city of Los Angeles and the American West Coast.

What can we expect in the future from Neuendorf Projects?

We’re looking to do more shows in Berlin and perhaps internationally in New York or London. This is just the start, the goal is to eventually open a permanent gallery space.