Lena Henke in New York, NY

I adore seeing art that is imaginative. Lena Henke’s work is in a two person exhibition, Apple Red Cranberry House at Bartolami gallery. In “The Upstairs”, a former loft converted into a gallery, I was met by a room full of vivid multi color sculptures and paintings. I was pleased I made the climb. “The Upstairs” is of course code for climbing some steep stairs!

I liked Henke’s pieces, as they were just fun and different from what I have been seeing recently. While her ceramic lily pads were lovely, it was the kitchen sculptures and ceramic houses that caught my attention.

“Henke’s most recent kitchen sculptures result from intensive research into her temporary home in Berlin’s Hansaviertel, a neighborhood saturated with postwar modernist apartment buildings from the likes of Walter Gropius, Oscar Niemeyer, and Le Corbusier. In the late 1950s, designer Dieter Rams furnished over half of these homes with appliances from Braun. Henke selected four of these items; a stand mixer, blender, citrus juicer, and coffee machine, which she digitally enlarged, 3D-milled, and coated in rubber. Installed in the Upstairs kitchen, the sculptures point to the former life of the space as a classic New York City loft.” (Bortolami)

Lena Henke, Form Follows Feminine (Kueche), 2022
PU-foam, pigment, and rubber
13 7/8” × 25” × 14 1/4 in.
Edition 4 of 6

“Her three series of works are linked by her ongoing research in landscape design, urban planning, and architecture. The floor-based ceramic houses glazed in primary colors replicate a surrealistic piece of utopian architecture–Pier Franceso Orsini’s Leaning House, constructed in 1552, as part of the infamous Garden of Bomarzo, a verdant complex of grotesque and fantastical sculpture.” (Bortolami)

Bumblebee House after Orsini, 2021
Glazed ceramic on plexiglass pedestal
19” × 16” × 29 in
Cranberry House after Orsini, 2021
Glazed ceramic on plexiglass pedestal
19” × 16” × 29 in

As a ceramicist myself, I appreciated the construction of these houses. The fact that each house had a second floor inside of them, was impressive.

Baby Blue House after Orsini, 2021
Glazed ceramic on plexiglass pedestal
19” × 16” × 29 in

I made a huge dollhouse for my daughter when she was young. It took forever, with the help of my husband. I continued on and wallpapered the rooms, tiled the bathrooms, wood shingled the roof, electrified the house, and I thought to myself at the exhibition how wonderful to just have a house made of clay. But the ceramicist in me thought, wow, look how flat those walls and floor are! Well done!

The exhibition is open through December 23, 2022. You can see better images, and the rest of the show here.

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