Q&A with with Broadway 1602 Director, Anke Kempkes


Can you discuss Whitney Biennial 2014 Artist Paul P. and his upcoming exhibition at Broadway 1602 gallery?

In the first week of March 2014 two parallel exhibitions open in New York featuring new works by Paul P. We are very exited to host our first gallery show with the artist who divides his time between Paris, Toronto and New York. Paul P. looks back to an exhibition history in New York since the mid 2000s. His work entered over the years prominent collections in the States and in Europe. Some of his intriguing works on paper are in the MoMA collection.

Parallel to our show Paul P. participates in the 2014 Whitney Biennial. He introduces here a new suite of ink life drawings after 19th century sculptures at the Metropolitan Museum – a bust of a bacchante, the feet of a martyr, a sleeping boy. In the center of Paul’s Whitney presentation is one of his new exquisite desk pieces: “Writing Table for Nancy Mitford (Blitz) Era”. In the same week, on March 6th, we present the pendent “Escritoire Nancy” at the Independent Art Fair in Chelsea. - A true Paul P. moment!

Please discuss the furniture pieces that were inspired by British 19th century designer and architect E. W. Godwin.

Paul P.’s ultra delicate mahogany tables and desks are perfectly functional while belonging to the realm of minimally mannerist sculpture. There is an allegorical nature to the furniture, “attaching itself to literature and aestheticism and in that process alluding to certain lives lived”, as the artist described.

The writing desk “Escritoire Nancy” is a sculpture Paul P. designed as a kind of homage to the mid-20th century novelist and essayist, Nancy Mitford, who summered in Venice and belonged to a famous family of sisters who, “through their breadth of character, seem to have touched everything that defined the last century” (Paul P.).

The shifting, almost hand-drawn lines of the furniture take indeed their inspiration from the work of E.W. Godwin, the 19th-century English design reformer, aesthete, and collaborator of Whistler’s, and one of the first in England to incorporate Japanese elements into his work.

When light hits the desk and tables, their fine lines create a sophisticated play of shadows, not unlike in the subtle color fields in Paul P.’s new abstract paintings.

We are excited to see Paul P.’s new rug designs.  How were they created?

Paul P.’s new work focuses on a form transition from his abstract paintings and works on paper into functional design. The rugs are deepening this engagement and bring it to a whole other level. The new rugs are based on collages created from fibrous paper overlaid with gouache and ink.  Organically ruptured color field compositions in these collages are built up by layers of torn paper lending a strangely painterly quality. The rugs are elegantly enlarged interpretations of these intimate abstractions, adding the altogether distinct material quality of functional domestic design.

There are two rugs in the coming show in the dimensions 50 by 80 and 90 by 60 inches, one reflects a collage design of strong orange, grey and blue tones, while the other has intense red and black tones. These rugs look like large abstract paintings and could also be presented as tapestry. Future rug designs by Paul P. can have a site-specific dimension and destination.

The show is an allusive trip through different design histories: the furniture pieces take you to the late 19th century while the colors and compositions of the rugs have something of the 1980s. The new purple, grey and yellow collages in the snow have a distinct ‘Memphis’ feel to them.

What is the vision of the exhibition “The Homosexual Lovers Throughout the Ages Party” opening on March 7th, 2014 at Broadway 1602?

This show successfully and truly realizes what Paul P. calls the creation of an “aesthetic interior”. He positioned his two mahogany table pieces “Untitled (Broadway) and “Untitled (New York)” on a pedestal structure of gently ascending steps accentuating the space like an almost ‘natural’ extension of the architecture.  A shelf construction for the collages hanging against a grey wall echoes this stepped structured.  The colors of the exhibition design are chosen with utmost finesse. It all looks elegantly animated, a real mise-en-scène.

Paul P. describes his vision of this exhibition in his own literary way: “Low mahogany tables, woven woolen rugs, and abstract paintings, are laid and oriented in an attitude of expectancy. To take it in faith that these works have their origins in sensuality is a part of the enterprise, that they are oblique confers onto them a dandy’s historical mix of the coded and the aesthetic and underlines a separation from function which marks these objects. In this sense the exhibition is a climate, and in essence refers to that which is next to, not away from. The small table is the idea of a table, an island that awaits alighting upon; for a letter or a vase placed by an imagined hand”.

The exhibition opens on March 7, 2014 and closes on April 19, 2014. Our address is 1181 Broadway, Floor 3 in New York City.

How many works were chosen by the Whitney Museum of American Art Curators for the Whitney Biennial 2014?

There are 15 of the life drawings and the desk piece dedicated to Nancy Mitford positioned on a prominent pedestal in the center of the third floor of the museum, curated by Anthony Elms, one of the three curators of the Biennial. You can view them at the Whitney Museum of American Art starting March 7, 2014 through May 25, 2014.

Can you share more details about your gallery and philosophy?

I founded the gallery in 2005, having been a curator and writer in London, Berlin and Basel before. The galley name BROADWAY 1602 derived from the street and the suite number of my first space. It was fashioned in my generation of galleries to use the street name or any other motto instead of the gallerist’s name. My ideal was to be able to create a strong curatorial even focus in my program on the base of financial independence. And due to my background there was always a European sensibility expressed in the gallery, - from the individual choice of location in Manhattan’s Garment/Fashion district, to a space with a lot of character, to the program range.