berlin: inside the artist studio


Berlin - Inside the Artist Studio{Kani Alavi‘s Kreuzberg studio}

You know me, and know that I’m not one to spend a full post talking about any one thing unless it has to do with food, but today I thought I’d take a break from the culinary arts and share something in the realm of the visual. 

I’m here in Berlin for a two-week fellowship, where, along with other American broadcast reporters and producers, I’ve had the privilege of speaking with leaders in local government and journalism. Everyone’s been great, knowledgeable and impressively fluent in English, but I have to say that for me, the highlight was meeting Iranian-German artist Kani Alavi of East Side Gallery fame. The man doesn’t speak any English, but his work is proof that a picture is worth a thousand words. No translation necessary. 

It Happened in November - Kani Alavi{It Happened in November, East Side Gallery via}

Kani came to prominence for his East Side Gallery painting depicting the scene he witnessed on the historic day in November 1990 when the Berlin Wall came down. The East Side Gallery is a 1.3km-long portion of the Wall painted by more than 100 artists from all over the world. As one of the few portions of the wall still standing, it’s a definite must-see if you’re ever in the city. Kani was one of the first to leave his mark. 

Kani Alavi Studio in Berlin{The artist himself}

Not only did he meet us by his painting to give us the backstory, but Kani also graciously invited us back to his studio and home, giving us a glimpse into his genius and life. Even with the language barrier, his charisma and passion were clear and contagious. 

Kani Alavi studio

His studio was the perfect mix of mess and orderly. Tins full of paint tubes and stacks upon stacks of paintings on tables, leaning against walls. It was a real feast for the eyes, and a truly beautiful apartment. 

Kani Alavi Poppies
His work seemed pretty evenly split between Berlin scenics like the Mauer (wall in German) and Brandenburg Gate, and Iranian poppies, an homage to his once home. The poppy paintings were my favorite and I would have bought one had I (a) had any space in my carry-on suitcase, and (b) had any euros to spare. Maybe next time. 

Kani Alavi Berlin Studio
While most known for his paintings, one of my favorites part of the studio had to be the little pieces of chalk pastels strewn about on one of the work surfaces. Something about each piece’s placement gave them all this look that they’d just been touched and had we walked in a second sooner, we would have seen a great masterpiece in the making. I loved it. 

Meeting Kani, a true talent and piece of Berlin history, has been the highlight so far. Yep, even better than the food (more on that on Monday). You can check out additional information on Kani and the East Side Gallery here

I’m off now to make the most of my final days in Berlin, then it’s on to Potsdam and Dresden. I hear great things about both.

Have yourself a lovely weekend!

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2 Responses to berlin: inside the artist studio

  1. Teesa says:

    that is so amazing that you got to meet such a prolific artist! and be in his studio! (btw, not sure if that last link is working)

    • Yang says:

      Thanks for pointing that out. I think the page is just missing entirely from the website now. Boo. I relinked to a different page from a different site. Thanks, Teesa!

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