Alisa Margolis: Painting Exploded


Upon first encountering Alisa Margolis’ paintings online I was unsure whether I was looking at paint. The American artist's work ranges from technically rendered explosions and carefully constructed rubble to the Baroque meets deep space and the Athenians at a rock concert.



“There’s something primal about painting, the materiality, the color- it produces endorphins,” I caught up with Margolis outside the Spati in Mitte, her home for the last ten years. When asked to explain her own work she shrugs, ever the nonchalant New Yorker, “It’s between technical formalism and ‘let it fly’”.









Throughout Margolis’ career, beginning in New York at Columbia University for her BA, then attending de Ateliers in Amsterdam and finally settling in Berlin, she has created spaces for art traditions, ranging from the Baroque to Dutch 17th century flower painting to american pop culture, to interact. Typically beginning in a dark space, layers of oil and resin produce milky color plumes; a wonder of technical skill and a clear joy in the process of painting. Flowers, abstract designs and body parts dissolve and perforate- the lights go up onstage and Axl Rose melts.


Margolis, I'm Your Boyfriend Now, 2018. Oil and Resin on Canvas.

Margolis most recently exhibited in a group show at Galerie Judin in Berlin, which she also organized. This exhibition was an opportunity for Margolis to add classical figures to her abstract landscapes. The saturated, colorful spaces were rendered in pastel sunset hues rather than her usual dark cosmic fields and the figures, spilling, twisting, and appearing in smoke and in satin, belonged to antiquity. Easily recognized as figures between gods and men, Margolis' formalism and “gooey feel” technique is on dactylic display. Her abstract expressionist foundation entangles the measured lines of the classical figures, the ancient icons, their roman brows and laurel wreaths severed from chiseled abs hidden in a bubbling pink enamel veil.

Margolis, Eleven Times with Hercules, 2018. Oil Alkyd resin and India Ink on canvas. Galerie Judin, Berlin

Margolis, Fieldwork, 2018. Oil and Alkyd resin on canvas. Galerie Judin, Berlin

In Margolis’ highly anticipated Berlin Drawing Room Workshop, students will focus on learning strategies for figuration and creating space. Exploring gestures which happen between the formal and impulse, flatness and depth. The workshop is an opportunity to learn from a master of marrying extreme opposites. Margolis’ interest in “using paint the wrong way” encourages a freedom to explore material, sources and color over the short course for students of every technical skill level. Review of color theory and a viewing of Dario Argento’s Suspiria is recommended before the first class.


Margolis, Galan, 2014. Oil and Resin on canvas. Galerie Judin Berlin

Results from Hybrid Paper-Making Workshop

details from artwork by instructor Loren Britton

Paper-Making Workshop

Get your hands wet in paper pulp while exploring the process of papermaking! This workshop takes a fresh look at the everyday material of paper, using an approach that is tactile, colorful and playful. Take your paper scraps and transform them into a new ‘drawing’, ‘painting’ or hybrid sculpture.
Pulling from histories of collective making we will explore the materiality of paper together. Learning from artist, Loren Britton, who uses this process in their own work, we will process, pulp, practice, and produce pulp works that embed bits of our own and collective history into a new object.
October 4, 6, 7, 2018


by Hadass Gilboa

by Hadass Gilboa

by Hadass Gilboa

by Ronnie Hofmann


Collaboration with Natural History Museum Berlin





I am excited to officially announce a new collaboration with the Natural History Museum of Berlin; something that has been in the 'planning and development' phase for over a year now. In my pursuit to embody the spirit of the Naturalist, the Natural History Museum seemed like a perfect partner. When I reached out they were very enthusiastic about the workshop format I had already established with the Prinzessinengarten and they wanted to participate in this interdisciplinary dialogue grounded in the overlap between the natural sciences and drawing from observation.

Whereas the workshops held in collaboration with the Prinzessinnengarten and Plant-Expert Matthias Wilkens have been botanical in their focus, the workshops at the Natural History Museum will look through the lens of a Wunderkammer, or Cabinet of Curiosity. The Wunderkammer is the predecessor to modern museums. Instead of following a scientific ordering principle, they were often organized by aesthetic principles, leading to curious combinations and surprising inclusions. 

During the workshop Wunderkammer Drawing we will explore the world renowned collections of the Museum, both on display and behind the scenes. We will have the unique opportunity to meet some of the researchers and learn directly from them about the their work within the museum.

Are some of these researchers modern day Naturalists? Or has the process of specialization progressed so far that there is no longer a place for interdisciplinary work within an institution? Let's find out together! 




Wunderkammer Drawing

with Mira O'Brien (BDR Founding Director) in collaboration with the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin (Natural History Museum)
Imagine you are seeing a scaly Pangolin or an iridescent Morpho didius butterfly for the first time. Is the timid Pangolin a pinecone come to life? Is the shimmering butterfly more than a mirage? It is this sense of wonder at the natural world that we will seek to reconnect with through the act of drawing.
As we explore the collections of the Natural History Museum, we will assume the role of the Naturalist who was both artist and scientist. Through the act of close observation, we will gain unique perceptual insights into our specimens.
During the first four weekly sessions we will focus on drawing techniques. During the following four weekly sessions we will focus on watercolor techniques. While our studies will be more closely aligned with field work than polished studio work, they will contain the vibrancy of wonder.
LocationMuseum für Naturkunde Berlin, Invalidenstr. 43 · 10115 Berlin
January 11 - March 1, 2019
Fridays 10:30am-1:30pm
Drawing: January 11, 18, 25, February 1
Watercolor: February 8, 15, 22, March 1
Cost: 124€ per 4 week module. 224€ for both modules.
(includes museum admission)

Maureen Jeram: traditional and contemporary painting techniques

I am fascinated with both traditional and contemporary painting techniques and
feel that the combination of the two can create a powerful image. 

Maureen Jeram

We are very lucky to have artist Maureen Jeram as the instructor for the Painting Workshop at the Berlin Drawing Room. Jeram is an artist both steeped in traditional painting technique, from oil painting to egg tempera and fresco, as well as actively exploring contemporary questions. She says, "I am fascinated with both traditional and contemporary painting techniques and feel that the combination of the two can create a powerful image." It is this blend of traditional and contemporary techniques that makes Jeram's approach to teaching painting so well suited for the Berlin Drawing Room.

Jeram's own work has been described as a "productive conflict with tradition," a balancing act which "requires that the authority of ones predecessors be taken seriously, but also be able to be overcome."

Jeram's impressive art education in the USA, Italy and Berlin prepared her for this way of working. As she explains:

"In Italy at Romano Stefanelli’s studio and at the Florence Academy I trained for seven years classical approaches to drawing and painting, specializing in the use of tempera, oil and fresco. Developing a composition, mixing colors and building a realistic scene based on light and shadow are classical techniques that I learned and teach.

As for contemporary painting techniques, I trained at the Rhode Island School of Design and at the Universität der Künste Berlin with Georg Baselitz. I learned about painting as process, how to develop and use brush strokes and mark making, as well as the graphic and conceptual quality of creating an interesting image.
"

While traditional technique lies at the foundation of Jeram's own practice, as well as her approach to teaching, she is careful to remind us that these skills are only tools. To art students she would say: 
"Think of your skills and techniques as a tool bag which will prepare you to find your own vocabulary and personal expression in paint." 
It is this moment of personal expression that she is ultimately seeking to prepare her students for, so that they have all the tools ready to use when that moment comes. When Jeram is in her studio at work, "she has to see with tradition, but during the actual painting process she must forget or at least temporarily repress it long enough in order to let her own picture come into existence."1

And what is Jeram tackling in her studio right now? "At the moment I am working on a series of paintings of portraits and figures in spaces which fuse the real with the_uncanny," she states. Check out a couple of images below of this in-progress series!

Learn more about the upcoming Painting Workshop starting August 7, 2018 with Maureen Jeram. http://www.berlindrawingroom.com/painting/

At the moment I am working on a series of paintings of  portraits and figures in spaces
which fuse the real with the
 uncanny.
Maureen Jeram

explorations into "the_uncanny"
Maureen Jeram

A couple more images from Maureen Jeram's series "Teufelssea."

"Contemplation," oil on canvas 
"Encounter," oil on canvas




  Isabelle Moffat, 2008, "Maureen Jeram: The other side of sleep"

Klara Hobza draws water


by Hallie Frost

To hone her drawing practice, Klara Hobza visits the water. Wherever she is, everyday she tries to find the closest river, lake or ocean to draw its surface. “Water forces you not to cling to landmarks” she says, and I recall some introductory art class professor referring to drawing as “mapping”. Not here.

Hobza’s Drawing Water Workshop with the Berlin Drawing Room arose out of her deep engagement with water as subject matter in combination with a long term drawing practice. Learning to draw at 14, Hobza immediately gravitated to drawing not only as a practice for creating an image but also as a tool to see. The process of drawing as a mode of perception, as well as physical activity, is for her just as important as the outcome. By focusing on the hand-eye coordination during the act of drawing, one is effectively training the hand to see.

As we walked by the Spree in Hobza’s Kiez Friedrichshain, she remarked that her drawing practice as a teenager saved her from the anguish most people, but especially women, experience as we grow into our bodies. The practice of drawing as observation allowed her to appreciate bodies as they are and not as they should be.



While the workshop will stay on the surface, Hobza’s own practice lies many meters below. As a trained scuba diver, her current ambition is to dive through Europe allowing the Rhine river to carry her from the southeastern Alps until it empties into the North Sea. Familiar with a recreational hobby that presupposes sunny coral reefs, I could only ask “Isn’t it dark down there?” To which she responded with the many other sensory experiences one must rely on when navigating in a heavy, powerful darkness where you can see maybe a few feet in front of you. In a collaboration with Basel Thomas Geiger, Hobza is creating a number of flotation devices attached to tools and talismans that will go on the journey down the Rhine just ahead of her. The way these tools will have changed in the water will affect their use to her; that they may reach her “competent and knowing due to the river they’ve both been submerged in”. This journey through water is the stuff of classic literary imaginations and Hobza comments on this, saying much of her art is invoking imagination. “The Rhine is an art on a grand scale, a Richard Serra scale” she jokes. I suddenly become aware of the world’s greatest sculptor.


The workshop will take place by the Spree Hobza visits daily. Utilizing the tools she relies on- Charcoal, chinese calligraphy ink and brushes, students will create a close study and do quick-time sketches of three different bodies of water. They’ll work to observe the mirrored image on still water, the aspects of grey, the plasticity of shadow, and the volume and shape that are often denied of surfaces. It will be three days of instruction, conversation and observation of water and undoubtedly after my brief walk with Hobza, of art.


August 2 – 5, 2018
Thursday, August 2nd in the studio, 6 – 9 pm
Saturday, August 4th at the river Spree, 2 – 5 pm
Sunday, August 5th at the river Spree and at Karpfenteich, 2 – 5 pm
Cost: 80€ + 12€ Materials Fee*= 92€
        *Materials Fee includes: A4 Drawing Paper Block, Portfolio Folder, Waterbrush, Chinese Ink, Willow Charcoal

Painting Workshop with Maureen Jeram: August 7 - September 11

We are very excited to offer the Painting Workshop with internationally acclaimed painter Maureen Jeram. Maureen combines her training in Italian Renaissance painting with her studies under George Baselitz to give you an entirely fresh approach to traditional painting techniques.


Maureen Jeram finished her Bachelor of Fine Arts in painting at the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence Rhode Island in 1993, before moving to Italy to research Renaissance painting. In 1998, she received a Fulbright grant in Florence, Italy for a project on contemporary frescoes. She moved to Berlin in 2000 and studied with Georg Baselitz at the Universität der Kunst. Through the use of staging and found gestures, her painting focuses on revealing underlying tensions between figures and objects establishing a pictorial space where conflicting emotions begin to become tangible. Her paintings are exhibited in Berlin, Italy, USA and in the Netherlands. She lives and works in Berlin. Learn more about her work at her website: www.maureenjeram.com

Painting Workshop : August 7 - September 11

An introduction to the expressive and versatile medium of painting with a focus on traditional painting methods. Starting with basic color theory, learn how to mix colors and achieve a unified color world. Through exercises designed to show the difference between hue and value, or the relationship between complimentary colors, we sharpen our understanding of how colors interact and how to mix paint.  Learn step by step how to craft a painting by exploring techniques for paint application, brushstrokes and composition to create form and space.
While the focus is on painting from direct observation, such as from a still-life, there are still opportunities to explore individual style and personal expression. We will look to examples from both art history and contemporary art for technical and conceptual insights. A field trip to contemporary art galleries is a great opportunity to learn about Berlin's art scene and current trends in painting.

Non-toxic acrylic paint will be supplied.
August 7 - September 11, 2018
6x on Wednesday in the studio from 6-9 pm
1 x Field trip on Saturday, September 1, 12-2pm
Cost: 160€ (including paint)








New Workshops in August 2018

I am very excited to announce our August workshop schedule! We have three new workshops with three new artist instructors.

Dive deep into the subject matter of water with artist and expert scuba diver Klara Hobza! The Drawing Water Workshop will explore the challenging task of drawing water in motion, using both traditional and experimental techniques. Klara is an internationally recognized artist and she will be sharing her technical tips and passion for water with the class. 

Expand and hybridize your understanding of what paper can be! Artist Loren Britton has focused their own artistic practice around paper-making, reinventing this traditional medium in both conceptual and sculptural forms. The Paper-making Workshop with Loren promises to be stimulating and fun, in both expected and unexpected ways.

And finally the workshop that many of you have been waiting for.. We are very excited to offer the Painting Workshop with internationally acclaimed painter Maureen Jeram. Maureen combines her training in Italian Renaissance painting with her studies under George Baselitz to give you an entirely fresh approach to traditional painting techniques.

It is a great honor to introduce you to Klara, Loren and Maureen. Check our TEAM page to learn more about these incredible artists and find links to their homepages.

To sign up for a workshop, including Botanical Drawing Workshop and Colors from Nature in July, please visit the homepage for each workshop linked below. There you will find a registration form. Or just reply to this email, that works too!

all the best,
Mira O'Brien
Founding Director
Berlin Drawing Room

Drawing Water Workshop

with Klara Hobza, artist, drawing instructor and expert scuba diver.
Immerse yourself in deep observation and self-expression through the process of drawing water in motion. Explore how observational drawing can lead to abstract imagery by focusing on the unique qualities of water such as movement, rhythm and texture.
We will use the techniques of layered line drawing with liquid ink brush and charcoal. Out in the field we will practice both quick motion studies and multi layered long studies. 
August 2 – 5, 2018
Thursday, August 2nd in the studio, 6 – 9 pm
Saturday, August 4th at the river Spree, 2 – 5 pm
Sunday, August 5th at the river Spree and at Karpfenteich, 2 – 5 pm
Cost: 80€ + 12€ Materials Fee*92€
        *Materials Fee includes: A4 Drawing Paper Block, Portfolio Folder, Waterbrush, Chinese Ink, Willow Charcoal

Paper-making Workshop

Get your hands wet in paper pulp while exploring the process of papermaking! This workshop takes a fresh look at the everyday material of paper, using an approach that is tactile, colorful and playful. Take your paper scraps and transform them into a new ‘drawing’, ‘painting’ or hybrid sculpture.
Pulling from histories of collective making we will explore the materiality of paper together. Learning from artist, Loren Britton, who uses this process in their own work, we will process, pulp, practice, and produce pulp works that embed bits of our own and collective history into a new object.
August 9 - 12, 2018
Thursday, August 9th: 6 - 9 pm
Saturday, August 11th: 12 - 4pm
Sunday, August 12th: 12 - 4pm
Cost: 130€
Materials included: Participants will be encouraged but not required to bring their own paper pulp materials for conceptual reasons.

Painting Workshop

An introduction to the expressive and versatile medium of painting with a focus on traditional painting methods. Starting with basic color theory, learn how to mix colors and achieve a unified color world. Through exercises designed to show the difference between hue and value, or the relationship between complimentary colors, we sharpen our understanding of how colors interact and how to mix paint.  Learn step by step how to craft a painting by exploring techniques for paint application, brushstrokes and composition to create form and space.

August 7 - September 11
6x on Wednesday in the studio from 6-9 pm
1 x Field trip on Saturday, September 1, 12-2pm
Cost: 160€ (includes non-toxic acrylic paint)