A place where art tunes the soul: 11th Open Air Gallery at Oberbaumbrücke

Notes of Art
A young man writes a note on the importance of art, leaving his mark on the canvas connecting Kreuzberg with Friedrichshain.

The bridge which spans the Spree River, connecting the Berliner boroughs of Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain, the so-called Oberbaumbrücke, becomes a feast of art, music and expression every summer on two holiday Sundays. Berlin summers are so flooded with creative and art-oriented events that one must ask: what is it that makes this one special?  Well, a range of magnificent artistic works, on-site painting and the freedom to express your inspirational impulses on a 120 meter long canvas, I would say. But somehow, not even this sounds convincing enough. In order to truly understand the beauty of its concept, one has to visit the Open Air Gallery at Oberbaumbrücke.

But fear not – you do not have to wait for the next summer‘s Gallery Sundays. You can check out the picturesque and exciting features of this event in our photo gallery below – which I sincerely hope will incite you even now to put the next Open Air Gallery Sunday on your must-see summer list.

(Over)populated Oberbaumbrücke?
Visitors go from one art stand to the other, while the youngsters – and those who feel alike – channel their creativity on the long canvas.

This year is the 11th anniversary of the Open Air Gallery concept’s realization at Oberbaumbrücke. The first Sunday reserved for the Gallery was on June 3, but sadly the event was cancelled due to adverse weather conditions, as you might have read before on our blog.. Luckily, the sunshine smiled on all fans and admirers of diverse and interesting art on July 7, 2013, when the 11th Open Air Gallery finally took place.

The idea of the event is to give over one hundred Berliner artists an opportunity to exhibit their work and to promote the importance of bringing people together through art, especially in a city as culturally and artistically rich as Berlin. This established happening in the Berliner cultural calendar stops the traffic over Oberbaumbrücke and offers a huge art exhibition in an open space that inspires exchange between the artists and the spectators of their work. Despite the growing popularity of the concept, the event still remains faithful to its initial idea by offering not only professional, but also emerging and less-known artists from the fields of painting, sculpture, graphics and photography a chance to participate in the exhibition.

All applications have been treated equally and independently under jury jurisdiction since the first selection process in 2003, and therefore artists are selected solely on the basis of quality and uniqueness. Thanks to the initiation and the organization of the 11th Open Air Gallery by the Kreuzberg city district and a team of volunteers, the event was open and free to all interested visitors.

Summer of love
A girl attentively starts her new art piece after completing a drawing of a heart.

July 7, 2013 represented a day of mind-provoking contemporary art and excellent summer atmosphere. In addition to enjoying art, all inspired visitors could themselves paint on a 120 meter-long canvas stretching from Kreuzberg to Friedrichshain. From little children to middle-aged people it seemed as though many attendees had on this sunny July day established a connection with their inner artistic selves and decided to share it with the world on the lengthy colorful and wondrous canvas. This artistic track between Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain was a mixture of almost every image one could imagine – the Canadian flag drawn by a young tourist in an obvious special esteem of the country, love declarations of young and old couples as well as friends, symbols of peace and friendship, blue cat tracks and much more. The toddlers were especially drawn to the canvas. Running away from their parents, they expressed their mixed thoughts about the world in abstract shapes and almost all available colors – until their parents could finally talk them into moving farther through the Gallery. A portrait of Berliners’ mixed thoughts: perhaps that indeed is the best description of the wondrous canvas bridging two of Berlin’s most famous boroughs.  

Painting on-site
Entertainment of the day: Kani Alavi paints the Oberbaumbrücke on-site. Astonishingly fast and precise brush movements, resulting in a flawless image on the canvas, left no pair of eyes indifferent to the creations of this talented East Side Gallery artist.

The organizers prepared another special afternoon treat for all interested eyes that day: live painting by three East Side Gallery artists. Kani Alavi, Thierry Noir and Pierre Paul Maillé painted for half an hour each from 2:00 PM onwards. I will definitely remember these as the most captivating moments of the day – fast, yet intense brush movements that for a second stop the time and made perfectly-aligned, almost impossibly beautiful and magnetizing creations. Such expressive individual work tends to trigger a positive, somewhat elevating emotional response inside of me – making me feel proud and complete as a human being that is a part of the species that has the ability to give life to an imaginary picture or a thought on the pure whiteness of a canvas, transforming it into an invitation for dialogue between the spectator and the artist.  As only one of the estimated 45,000 visitors on this day, I was and still am simply amazed at the wonders that the human mind can imagine and the human hand can create. Sharing this receptivity with many other attentive spectators only made it more powerful and gave my experience a note of both an inner and shared spiritual journey through art as a medium – a feeling I could read on a number of faces of other art-sensitive souls that day.


Photo gallery:

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