Magnus Krüger: Revisiting East Berlin Aesthetics through Painting

  • As an artist who grew up in Berlin, how would you describe the aesthetics between the city and your works?

The aesthetic relationship between me and Berlin is clearly visible in my work. I myself grew up on the 11th floor of a WBS 70 prefab building in Marzahn, the eastern part of the city.

In the years before the fall of the Berlin Wall, it was particularly attractive for the inhabitants of East Berlin to move to Marzahn. There you had a private toilet in the apartment, central heating, and no bullet holes in the facade – remnants of the war.

After the reunification, many people emigrated from Marzahn to find their happiness in the other parts of the Federal Republic.

I myself was born in 1990 and still have a GDR birth certificate and would therefore call myself post-east. Why post-east? My upbringing, my schooling, my growing up in the shady courtyards of the grey skyscraper complexes is a melting pot of the memories of my parents and the influences of the West. I don’t live there anymore, but I visit my old neighborhood regularly.

I am socially involved there and continue to follow the development of the district.

That’s why the satellite town, which is a populated area focused on primarily residential and less commercial or industrial, is still a theme in my works.

  • Can you describe the main components of the aesthetics you have been constructing through your paintings? What kinds of artistic, cultural, and social inputs have fed your style so far?

My style is shaped by a whirlpool of thoughts, memories, and flimsy components.

Sometimes it is autobiographical, sometimes I use it as a proxy to construct my own truth. It is a collage of fear of what the future has in store for you, isolation, escapism, joyful failure, the interplay of past and present, the interlinkages of everyday life, and the perfidious joke about one’s own existence. 

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  • What were the emotions and feelings that initially encouraged you to practice your art? Why did you choose painting as the medium? How do you feel while painting? How do you reflect this in your art?

Since childhood art has been an outlet for me to break out of a dirty everyday life.

It is therapy, refuge, curse, and blessing.

  • Which art movements and artists played considerable roles in shaping your mentality of art?

Art movements that challenge the aesthetic norm, such as Cubism and Expressionism, were very important to me from an early age. But also this in questions of society, by wit, by exploring new spaces, by the attack on art itself and by radicalism, such as the DADA, Fluxus, and the Viennese Actionism – have had a lasting impact on me. But elements such as reproducibility and repetition per se, as found in Pop Art, have also influenced my work.