Hidden from the street in Prenzlauer Berg, Milchhof Studios is one of the authentic homes of Berlin’s many artists. This includes Colombian born Carlos Silva, who has been covering his studio in the old milk dairy, with colour for over twelve years. Last September, we had the unique experience of entering his creative space during a coGalleries opening. This time around, we returned to the Michhof Pavilion for an equally vibrant and intimate visit.
Silva presents his latest series Colourtecture as the first exhibition of Focus on Abstraction, a three-part series celebrating the varied techniques, styles, and aesthetics of the genre. Through the pavilion’s glass doors, bright light is spread over the atelier’s eccentric front garden, which is filled with fragmented stones, a large, head-plunging Superman sculpture, and the greenery of budding May. Yet, it’s Silva’s artworks that magnify the bright light ten fold! The new series combine works of ink on paper, and acrylic on canvas and wood, all exemplifying the artist’s characteristic chromatic abstraction. A series of rectangular works on paper run along one whole wall. Each piece is made up of many individual brushstrokes, creating an abundance of coloured blocks that resemble the bird’s eye view of an urban landscape. Standing in front of the works, you are able to flaneur around the streets of Silva’s abstract city.
Silva’s modular system is also found in the large-scale painting on canvas. The inflowing bands of colour create a three-dimensional effect. The work draws you into its circulating aesthetic, taking your focus away from your spatial surroundings. This ability to transport is a common theme throughout Silva’s work.
Throughout the opening, the vibrancy of the work is continued into the garden by the creative community that have come to admire and support. All ages congregate, whilst the children run around the garden’s delights, others enjoy drinks from the home-made bar that is accompanied by its very own light show. Such organic atmospheres can rarely be found in the gallery circuit!
Focus on Abstraction also features exhibitions by artists Oliver Lanz (German) and George Barber (British). All three artists work with abstract influences, with the exhibition series acting as a discourse between their individual practices within the genre.
Over a beer, Silva tells me of his influences, and roots into abstract art. “Beginning as an architect, naturally elements of composition, structure and geometry flowed into my art practice. When I started painting, my pallet was actually very monochrome, but from the minute I used colour for the first time in my No CMY series, there was no turning back. It was never my intention to be an abstract artist. When I arrived in Berlin in 1998, the historical city and it’s fragmented urban landscape came as a huge influencing impact. I began to document my surroundings with drawings and paintings, which I then began to reduce in structure and form to understand the true essence of the city. This is the main focus of abstract art, reduction, so I guess this began the path into abstraction.”