As ardent readers of Gestalten‘s stellar art and design books, we’ve been wanting to visit their storefront, Gestalten Space, ever since it opened last year in Berlin. Tucked away in a cobblestone alley in Mitte, Gestalten Space sells the imprint’s own publications along with a well curated selection of covetable design objects, while the exhibition space in back allows for an expansion to the work of the artists and designers they publish. Demonstrating a wide scope, in April they exhibited photographs from Jorg Bruggemann’s book “Metalheads,” followed by a selection of the best new Japanese communication design from the Tokyo Art Directors Club.
Right now Gestalten is celebrating “Black Antoinette,” their second monograph by illustrator Olaf Hajek, with an exhibition that runs through July. A collection of Hajek’s work from the past three years including editorial contracts, commercial portraits and personal pieces, “Black Antoinette” continues Hajek’s visual language of colorful botanical headdresses and folkloric influences with a distinct handmade, tactile quality akin to woodblock, not seen is most contemporary illustration. The look stems from the fact that Hajek never starts his work on the computer, but with paint on paper, wood or gray board. He does use a scanner, but only to send his work to clients—never as part of his illustration process.
The new book sets itself apart from Hajek’s previous publications with a style that has become more “free and painterly,” as Gestalten puts it, and less committed to absolute perfection. “Hajek masterfully melds influences from West African and Latin American art to create surreal juxtapositions of fairy tale fantasies and disordered realities. His magical realism enriches the perspective of anyone viewing his work,” and, we’d like to add, allows him to masterfully tread the fine line between commercial illustration and fine art.”
“Black Antoinette” runs through 29 July 2012 at Gestalten Space, where you can also buy the book. Copies will be available in the US within the coming months.
Gestalten Space images by Perrin Drumm