Current Issue #485

Support South Australian stories Contribute

With Berlin on hold, Paul Greenaway makes the most of lockdown

Despite clearing his exhibition schedule in anticipation of a move to Germany, local gallery owner Paul Greenaway has been making most of remaining in Adelaide during the COVID-19 lockdown.

When I started this piece, it was intended it to be about GAGPROJECTS’ future in Berlin with Paul Greenaway setting out to refocus his European operations by opening a new gallery space in one of the former Flakhallen (Flak hangars) on the western border of Berlin. Greenaway was planning to suspend the exhibition program at his Adelaide gallery for 2020 to focus his efforts on Germany. No sooner had this been announced than COVID-19 took hold, borders closed and major lockdowns were enacted all over the world.

“We were hoping for me to be [in Germany] supervising all of this and have it finished by October or November but that’s out of the question now,” says Greenaway. “We have put the project on hold but we will still do it as soon as we can. In the meantime I’m still here and so I thought I might as well keep running a program.”

In some ways it has worked in Greenaway’s favour that he had cleared his exhibition schedule as it has allowed him flexibility and the opportunity to directly respond to the COVID-19 crisis.

Xing Junqin
Angela Valamanesh

First up, Greenaway launched Lockdown, a group exhibition at GAGPROJECTS Adelaide featuring works by Daryl Austin, Louise Haselton, Ariel Hassan, Christian Lock, Dani Marti, Pierre Mukeba, Deborah Paauwe, Imants Tillers and Jenny Watson. The exhibition can be viewed by appointment; the gallery is following government guidelines on keeping the space clean, and it’s a large space that can easily fit one or two people while maintaining a safe distance.

In mid April Greenaway also launched the online project Love in the Time of COVID-19, a project designed to show solidarity with artists and families during the worldwide lockdown. Established and emerging artists are invited to submit an A4 art print which will be professionally printed on-demand, on high-quality rag paper, so people can start a collection from the safety of their home. The works can be purchased online for $25, which includes printing and postage within Australia (price is slightly more for overseas postage).

Greenaway’s Berlin plans for his new organisation and facility for contemporary art, which will be known as GAGPROJECTS GbR, will still go ahead but at this stage Greenaway is unsure when he will be able to travel. The redevelopment of the Flak Hall is a huge undertaking, as it’s a heritage-listed building which has been unoccupied since the Second World War.

Originally designed by leading architect Ernst Sagebiel , the six Flakhallen were conceived in preparation for the Second World War as part of military airbase operations on the main street of Elstal, situated adjacent to the 1936 Olympic Village (Village of Peace). While the buildings haven’t been occupied since, there has been a recent push by the municipal government and private investors to restore and reactivate these sites and the adjoining Olympic Village.

Flakhallen

“It’s a historic building so there are incredible hoops to jump [through] but it will be an extraordinary space when it’s finished. The building is 68 metres long and 22 metres deep with high ceilings. It’s a massive structure, bigger than my Adelaide gallery,” says Greenaway.

When it’s complete it will be an impressive building. It will include an exhibition space, which Greenaway is leaving as flexible as possible, an apartment that curators and major collectors can stay in so they can interact with the artists and travel in and out of Berlin (it’s only 23 minutes from the centre of the city), as well as office spaces and a private residence.

While COVID-19 has interrupted Greenaway’s plans of reinventing GAGPROJECTS in Berlin, he is making the most of the situation, continuing to promote Australian contemporary art and provide innovative ways to connect people with art.

Get the latest from The Adelaide Review in your inbox

Get the latest from The Adelaide Review in your inbox