Published in news from Ortenau – Offenburger Tageblatt
Author: Tobias Lupfer

Private collection in the ‘museum schloessle’ opens its doors.

Young art is the biggest passion of Helge Gerken – which he wants to share with his art friends in the Kinzig valley: On Sunday the second public exhibition will take place in Wolfach‘s private museum schloessle.

17th September 2015

On Sunday 20 September the small, and, until now, relatively unknown to those in the Kinzig valley, museum schloessle opens its doors to a new exhibition: Positions of German Sketch Artists is the title of the new show in the private collection of Helge Gerken. The private view begins at 2 pm in the museum, Unterm Schlössle 5, in Wolfach – entry is free.

The museum schloessle is neither a museum nor a gallery according to common notion – it is much more the product of hobby and a passion for art, which Helge Gerken wishes to share with the public: ‘I have a private collection’, explains Gerken. It is housed in the villa formerly owned by his parents-in-law. The house is fully renovated, however, the couple will not consider selling or letting it. ‘I have been collecting for a long time, it is my passion’, says Helge Gerken, resuming: ‘the whole house is full of paintings and sculptures.’

In 2014 the art lover, born in 1937, opened the doors to his museum schloessle for the first time. ‘I just decided to invite the neighbours.’ And, indeed, they came. At the beginning of June there followed the first public exhibition in the museum schloessle – featuring works by wife Helga Gerken-Grieshaber, an experienced artist born in Wolfach.

The spouse is also featured in the second show, alongside a selection of art by distinguished artists and younger talents. One of these is Peter Feiler, a Berlin-based artist born in 1985, as well as Michael Wutz, born in 1979 and also living in Berlin. ‘Featuring, among others, suggestive post-apocalyptic images’, is how Gerken describes her works. Different and striking: the sketches of Kinki Texas, also part of the exhibition.

All artists have one thing in common: they have all been featured in the Gerken gallery in Berlin – or, in the case of Kinki Texas, will be featured next year. It was founded in 2004 by Gerken’s daughter Tanja. ‘This is young art’, notes Helge Gerken about his collection. Classic-modern artists are not included. And yet: the pictures draw you in, are, in part, bursting with detail – or challenge the viewer with their simple, provocative style. In the future, Gerken wants to design one or two exhibitions a year in the museum schloessle. ‘Before I have the pictures only for myself…’.

Published in news from Ortenau – Offenburger Tageblatt
Author: Andreas Buchta

Helge Gerken presents young artists

Helge Gerken’s museum schloessle opens its doors for the viewing of parts of his private collection. The exhibition Positions of German Sketch Artists was opened on Sunday and is open until 18 October.

22nd September 2015

He wishes to showcase his private collection, which he simply calls museum schloessle, every spring and autumn in an exhibition: Helge Gerken, who, in the villa formerly owned by his parents-in-law, stores an unbelievable amount of modern artworks, wants to make his treasures available to the public. On Sunday, he is opening the exhibition Positions of German Sketch Artists.

Upon arrival at the property, one is met by Willi Tomes’s Invaders of the Earth, Zeljko Rusic’s filigree sculpture of cherry wood and Ruud Kuijer’s Burst Figure. ‘I have so many sculptures, I can no longer put them away’, says host Helge Gerken.

Contrary to the trend of banal artistic representation and publicity-driven exhibitions, he instead, by presenting parts of his collections, makes an effort to feature young artists that are determinedly finding their path – and who are nonetheless successful, Gerken explained to his large audience at the exhibition opening on Sunday.

Indeed, this collection is impressive. Works by Peter Feiler, Helga Gerken-Grieshaber, Kinki Texas and Michael Wutz are featured there. Peter Feiler’s visions are represented, in which the psychological takes centre stage and causes him to make opposing artistic statements: here, the idyll of a sleeping hunter, there, perverted figures on a pile of ‘human garbage’. Or, indeed, those of Michael Wutz, laureate of the Horst-Jansen Foundation, with his profound, disturbing drawings. Or even Kinki Texas, with his provocative caricatures, who holds a mirror up to a perverted society. And, finally, new works by Helga Gerken-Grieshaber, the wife of the gallery owner. Objects such as those by Alexander Habisreutinger hang from the ceiling, which, in a filigree manner, seem to lead a life of their own.

Published in news – Schwarzwälder Bote
Author: Arwen Möller

Helge Gerken has put together a true treasure trove of modern art in his museum schloessle, Wolfach. On Sunday at 12 o’clock, he invites us to preview the show titled The De-Materialisation of the Every-Day.

26th February 2016

Wolfach. A cast-iron gate, a hortensia and rustic beams make up the frame of the first artwork, which visitors of the sculpture garden of the museum schloessle look up to find. Concrete casts of a bin, a canister and sink are complexly mounted on top of one another.

It is precisely this 1950s mix of rustic-chic, and modern to postmodern art that runs like a common thread through the exhibition and around the house Unterm Schlössle 8 in Wolfach, defining their unique charm.

‘It is a hobby’, notes Helge Gerken with a smile. The retired art teacher studied at the art academy in Stuttgart, after which he taught at the secondary school in Hausach. Thirty years ago he had already started to buy works by modern artists: at the annual exhibitions of academy students in the German-speaking area, but also at art fairs and abroad.

He has a story to tell about every artist and every work, which he delivers in his pleasant non-dialect of the Rhine-region near Mühlheim an der Ruhr where the Berlin-born art collector grew up. Love landed him in the Black Forest. Indeed, his wife Helga Gerken-Grieshaber has described herself as a sketch artist. Furthermore, their oldest daughter is an architect, while the younger one has been running the Gerken gallery in Berlin for around 20 years.

In the Berlin-based exhibitions, the Wolfachian collector has also found several works for the current show, The De-materialisation of the Every-day. Around 30 works by diverse modern artists from his collection can be seen there – among them are many names that are well-known among connoisseurs, while others were discovered by Gerken himself. However, it is not only the high-calibre art that affords the show its magic. It is, above all, the personal touch boasted by this ‘castle full of art‘, reminding of larger museums of more personal collections.

Published in news from Ortenau – Offenburger Tageblatt
Author: Janine Ak

New exhibition in the museum schloessle, Wolfach

Painting, music, modern court paintings and critical watercolours can, from Sunday 12 March, be seen in Wolfach’s museum schloessle. Works by Andreas Beck from Hornberg, Gerhard Sauter from Karlsruhe and Kinki Texas alias Holger Meier from Bremen will be on display.

8th March 2017

In his private museum schloessle, Unterm Schlössle 5 in Wolfach, on Sunday 12th March, Helge Gerken is opening a new exhibition. The preview begins at 1 p.m..

The exhibition focuses on three contemporary painters: Andreas Beck from Hornberg, Gerhard Sauter from Karlsruhe and Kinki Texas alias Holger Meier from Bremen. The Cuban-born Madarys Morgan from Karlsruhe will accompany the preview at the grand piano, including, among others, works by Brahms.

Connecting music with the visual arts is fitting, as Gerhard Sauter, born 1943 in Riedlingen, is an artist who gets much of his inspiration from music. Art historian Aloisia Föllmer from Heidelberg writes the following about him: ‘upon sight of his pictures, the observer is involuntarily reminded of music. In this way, the artist, whose passion is playing the piano, makes no secret of his love for Chopin and Scriabin, allowing harmonies and discords, fast and slow rhythms, light and dark tonecolours to sound through his paintings.’ His works are attributed to abstract expressionism.

Kinki Texas, born in 1969, finds his inspiration in historical figures as opposed to music. He describes himself as a ‘modern court painter’ who enjoys depicting ‘knights and battles’, as he revealed in a 2013 interview with Franzmagazine, which he surprised with his extensive historical knowledge: ‘my pictures are a kind of courtly art of painting, transferred into modernity’. At a former exhibition in Bozen, South Tyrol, he expressed a wish for his works to be exhibited in castles and palaces. At least now, he can say that they have made it into a schlössle – a small palace.

Third is Andreas Beck, a theologian, medical man and writer, who decorates the sketches of his diary with socially critical watercolours and works in ball point pen.

Published in the newspaper – Schwarzwälder Bote
Author: Frank Schrader

Concentrated colours and an expert with a paintbrush

13 March 2017

Helge Gerken’s museum schloessle, Wolfach is no longer only an insider-tip of the local art scene. At the preview on Sunday, the busy art collector once again presented an exciting insight into his extensive collection.

Wolfach. This year‘s spring exhibition focuses on works by Kinki Texas, Andreas Beck and Gerhard Sauter. The pianist Madarys Morgan bestowed a certain charm on the preview, entertaining guests with her perfect and impassioned playing of quick Cuban melodies and the Romantic music of Brahms.

With that she immediately connected music with the art that could be seen there, as painter Gerhard Sauter is himself a competent pianist. Therefore, musical influences can also be recognised in his works. His picture composition, which strives towards the abstract, is full of concentrated colour and agility.

The works of Andreas Beck display a penchant for portraits. On multiple occasions he portrayed his friend Martin Walser. A portrait, commissioned for his 90th birthday on the 24th March, should actually have been given to the master of German post-war literature during the preview, however, this did not go ahead because Walser could not attend.

The battle against oblivion

Not only Beck’s handling of a paintbrush is virtuosic, but he has also made his name as a theologian, a medical man and by publishing books. With the artistic materials he has available, he campaigns against the oblivion and repression of German history.

The focus of this idea is the SS General Friedrich Jeckeln who, like Beck, was born in Hornberg. Though he was responsible for the deaths of around 269 000 people, he nonetheless even today enjoys a standing in his hometown.

The Berlin-based Kinki Texas is the third international artist of the exhibition. Already featured in the museum schloessle several times, he always enthrals audiences with his imaginative figure design, which serves, through means of the grotesque, the visualisation of his artistic visions.

50 visitors endulge

Like always, Helge Gerken understood how, with short sentences and quotes, to reference the core of each respective artistic personality without losing himself in art-historical seriousness.

The audience at the preview, around 50 visitors, seemed altogether satisfied with the works that were exhibited. On a delightfully sunny day, they enjoyed museum schloessle‘s pleasantly relaxed atmosphere, surrendering themselves to the aesthetic pleasure of form, colour and music, all accompanied by prosecco and nibbles.

Published in news from Ortenau – Offenburger Tageblatt
Author: Andreas Buchta

From next Sunday, a new exhibition is being opened in the museum schloessle, the private collection of Helge Gerken, including works by Johanna K. Becker, Helga Gerken-Grieshaber, Kinki Texas and Michael Wutz.

6th October 2017

Once again, in the Wolfach museum schloessle, Helge Gerken amazes with his small but excellent exhibition. The preview is this coming Sunday at 1pm: the introduction is led by gallery owner Helge Gerken and the music is being provided by Helmut Neerfelt on his accordion.

The exhibitions in the museum schloessle, Unterm Schlössle 5 in Wolfach, have almost become legendary – this as well as the previews, which are always highly unconventional and feature a top-class line-up.

Four exceptional painters, all of them well-known in artistic circles, are this time the focus of the exhibition: Johanna K. Becker, Helga Gerken-Grieshaber, Kinki Texas and Michael Wutz. In addition to this, there are sculptures by J. K. Becker, Anja Fußbach, Ruud Kuijer, Michael Schoenhotz, Voré and others to be seen.


‘Her landscape models are as if from a dream or a fantasy’, is noted about the painter Johanna K. Becker and her art. In the pictures by the artist, born in the 1980s in Worms, science and art undergo a perfect symbiosis. Artistic perfection and profundity of content are trademarks of the artist.

Kinki Texas, about whom no other than Martin Walser has said that he experiences the world as the ‘sum of all the forces of prevention’, exhibits his ironic and historical pictures. Michael Wutz shows his, literally, ‘alarming’ drawings, such as ‘…fallen out of the clouds…‘ or ‘one, two, three’. They are merciless and personal self-portrayals in the tradition of Alfred Kubin.

Finally, in the museum schloessle, Helga Gerken-Grieshaber displays her body-pictures, which comprehend the body as a multi-layered site, whose contemplation ‘releases intensity and causes advanced physicality’.

Published in news from Ortenau – Offenburger Tageblatt
Author: Andreas Buchta

‘Four Positions of German Sketch Artists’ opens

9th October 2017

New exhibition in the museum schloessle

Many followed the invitation of gallery owner and art collector Helge Gerken to the preview of the exhibition ‘Four Positions of German Sketch Artists’, including a number of artists. Helge Gerken held the laudation, Helmut Neerfeld delivered freely improvised, masterful, profound and stringently rhythmic sounds of tango on his accordion.

Four artists of very different mastery

The exhibition features four masters, each in their own characteristic way, of their craft: firstly, Michael Wutz, who distinguishes himself as an excellent individualist and, with his apocalyptic pictures, often falls back on traditions such as Kubin, Böcklin or Dürer and, lately, presents self-critical work with often vulgar elements. ‘This is dedicated to everyone who understands me, everyone who knows that ignorance is their best friend‘: Helge Gerken quotes the artist.

Also featured is the sketch artist Johanna K. Becker, who, in many works, references the garden of Eden, which, today, is deeply engrained in collective memory as a place of longing. In contrast to this, she approaches her work with scientific meticulousness. Helge Gerken has recently acquired another work by the Bremen-born artist Kinki Texas. ‘The titles of the paintings tell us several things about his works’, he thought: alienated and ironicised history is presented here, for example, Prince Metternich appears as a cowboy or Etzel as a ghostly machine of destruction.

As the fourth and the ‘house’ artist, Helga Gerken-Grieshaber shows her charming combinations of acrylic paint and chalk, with which she visualises her deep understanding for life, for humankind and for our social environment. Her body-pictures, for instance the 1996 work ‘in the fist’, comprehend the body as a multi-layered site where different dramatic things take place.

Musical accompaniment with sensual Tango melodies.

Helmut Neerfeld decided to adorn the preview in the museum schloessle with sensual tango melodies in wonderful modulations and highly concentrated, stringent rhythms, maintained even in fortissimo sections.

Published in the newspaper – Schwarzwälder Bote
Author: Frank Schrader

‘Young, aspirational art’ in the museum

10th October 2017

The preview on Sunday once again enticed many visitors and notable artists into the museum schloessle Wolfach, upon the promise of art, nibbles and music.

The museum schloessle in Wolfach has developed into a noteworthy meeting place for the national art scene by art collector and curator Helge Gerken. The preview on Sunday once again enticed numerous visitors and notable artists.

Alongside prosecco and nibbles, guests gave themselves up to the eye and ear candy of the present exhibition ‘Four Positions of German Sketch Artists’, which was presented to the highest standard.

Helmut Neerfeld, a former colleague of Helge Gerken‘s from Hausach secondary school, accompanied the presented artworks with improvised tango rhythms on the accordion, which he approached with great sensibility and expression. The artworks shown were by Johanna K. Becker, Helga Gerken-Grieshaber, Kinki Texas and Michael Wutz.

Weaving of voices

As a meditation on the dissolution of form and structure, which only an empty page could follow, the melancholy lines spanned to create an extensive web of voices, reflecting the line networks of the surrounding drawings.

Helge Gerken outlined the careers and concerns of the exhibited artists in short, expert words. With the works of Wutz and Becker, discovered by Gerken himself, he once again demonstrated his particular penchant for young, aspiring artists. Becker presents drawings and sculptures cast in polyester, which align with the theme ‘little garden of paradise’, an idea that can be traced back to the 15th century to the garden of Eden. With its detailed imagery, it clarifies the tensions between man and nature, and the pursuit of an idealised way of life.

The works of Wutz, with figures that are balanced over the abyss though never quite plunge into nothingness, possibly have an autobiographical background. They not least hint at the significant issue of the apocalypse, which the artist has often tried to address.

The topic is the President

Nowadays Texas belongs to the renowned artists that, with his in part surreal cabinet of figures, time and again appears surprisingly fresh and impetuous, always with a splash of humour and irony. An onlooker might, in this way, recognise an allusion to the outcome of the much discussed presidential election in the 2016 work All American Chief. Texas also gives new facets to former state and military leaders.

With temperament

Eventually, Gerken also spoke about a ‘charming, temperamental artist’: his wife Helga Gerken-Grieshaber. She consistently proves her virtuosic skills through the use of strong acrylic colours and chalk works. Furthermore, as Professor Hans Gercke, long time President of the Heidelberg art association, once noted in writing; she leads to the ‘nature of things’ and awakens understanding for ‘spirit and feeling’.