I have been uncertain about how to paint this former department store (Galeria Kaufhof) located behind Ostbahnhof in Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg. The brightly colored panels and opaque windows first caught my attention on a typical Berlin winter day when everything seemed once again closed and impenetrable.
As I worked, I went back and forth between loose washes and splotches of color, to a more controlled replication of the structure. As I learned more about this building, it became important to get the architecture of it right. Built in the 70’s by a Swedish company, it will be drastically restructured to be the new headquarters of the online emporium Zalando. Removing the primary colored panels and windows, the building’s cubic format will be cut into to let in natural light and create a step-like effect of open floorpans.
Learning this, I felt as though I needed to paint the quirky colors as a remembrance of a time and I wondered if the former style would still live on inside the refurbished place, as a presence within, much as how a person no matter how changed physically on the outside, still contains the earlier, younger, versions within. Fifty years from now what will replace the current trend in architecture of reflective glass and transparent structures? And what has become of those orange and blue-green panels?
The concepts of permanence and impermanence begin to interest me more as I paint and hopefully comes through in my work.
If you want to read more about this former department store: