Biography / Places
* 1948 Thedinghausen near Bremen. Studies at the Hochschule für Bildende Künste in Hamburg as well as at Hamburg University from 1968 until 1976. In 1977, she was a co-founder of Künstlerhaus Hamburg, but left the city immediately afterwards and moved to Italy (DAAD Scholarship). In her first studio, the Limonaia of the Villa Romana in Florence, she developed in her work the installation concept of the extended drawing, which led from the experience of the volume of the body to the experience of the volume of space. This early installation concept, which was difficult to market at the time, was followed by promotions of her work through awards/prizes and scholarships/grants.
After her father’s death in 1979, Berent traveled emediately to Egypt in order to look into death, detached from time. In 1981, she moved for one year to New York to finalize her experiences with the extended drawing in space. In 1984, she presented drawings at Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus and the spatial installation
Upside Down – Gefühlsstürze oder die Grube des Wunderbaren (Upside Down – Emotional Torrents or the Cavern of the Miraculous) at Kunstforum Maximilianstraße, both in Munich. Yet another example of the “walkable work” was the installation Der Aufbruch in die Ambivalenz der Augen beim Betrachten (Departure into the Ambivalence of the Eyes During Seeing) at Kunsthalle Hamburg. In 1985, she was awarded the Villa Massimo scholarship of the Deutsche Akademie in Rome, where she lived for a number of years.
At the end of the 1980s, she returned to Germany and settled in the Rhineland, joining the constituency of Gallery Erhard Klein. In the 1990s, she was offered and accepted invitations from the Goethe Institutes in Mumbai and New Delhi as well as by the Rinpoche of the Tibetan Buddhists in Delhi. In this alien culture she decided to use the material stone in her installations, stone sharply cut and arranged in linear alignments; she considers her stone alignments also as drawings. In Mumbai she met Rudolf zur Lippe, Jeet Uberoi, and Sudhir Kakar. In 1995 the City of Oldenburg, Germany acquired one of her black stone works Athanasy – the fire consuming otherness under the title Athanatos as a permanent installation for the Buddhist Conference in the India International Center in New Delhi, India. Extensive travels to East Asia and the Orient, Iran, Egypt, Turkey, Tunisia, and Syria, culminating in exhibitions in Egypt and in Iran followed. She has maintained and cultivated her contacts with Italy, especially with the City of Naples, where among other activities she has presented exhibitions and projects as GREEK FIELD in the Parco Archeologico, Cuma and the mirror installation entitled HAVE SUNK at Castel S. Elmo, Napels and 2015 BREATHING HOLES FOR EASING EARTH, near the border of lake Averno. LAND ART CAMPI FLEGREI XI EDIZIONE, La pratica artistica come evento sociale.In the 1980s, she predominantly pursued the exploration of the depth of the color black as a material; this was followed by the exploration of the color blue as a material in sculpture; the results of these investigations have been published in books and photographs since the 1990s.In 1998, 2002, 2008, and 2014, Berent developed sculptures at the .ekwc, European Ceramic Center, ’s-Hertogenbosch (at that time) in The Netherlands, as well as at HEAD-CERCCO (University of Art and Design), Geneva, where she experimented with the creation of mirrors in porcelain and the exploration of the colors lapis lazuli, cobalt, turquoise in wall pieces made from blue-glazed bricks, which represent her hermetic sculpture, drawing, and watercolors. In 2001, she showed blue wall pieces and sculptures in Egypt; in 2003, at Gallery Kunstraum21 in Cologne/Bonn; in 2005, in Oldenburg; in 2007, at the Museum for Contemporary Art in Isfahan, Iran; in 2009 at the Aaran Gallery in Teheran; and in 2010, at the Rocket Station on the island of Hombroich, Neuss, in 2018 she showed as in Iran a huge ceramic ensemble in the Kunstverein Leverkusen, Schloss Morsbroich e.V.
Since then again, she has concentrated her artistic creativity on large-format drawings, which had already characterized her very early work. From the beginnings, her work and the accompanying artists’ books have reflected her travel experiences in the variety strangeness of foreign components and foreign cultures as open-faced time. In 2010, she presented artists books at the Art and Museum Library Cologne “Hella Berent. TANK OF TIME. Thoughts Hallways Sensations Transition of Time. Artists Books 1977– 2010”; in 2012, “Hella Berent. Book Space TANK OF TIME. Artists Books 1977–2012” at Stefan Schuelke Fine Art Books, Cologne, and in 2014, ”Hella Berent. TIME CAPSULE. Artists Books 1977–2014” at the County Library Oldenburg.
Recently in 2018 the bibliophile Artist Book HELLA BERENT / MIMMO GRASSO
Das Blut der Stadt / La città dei Sangui got released by IL LABORATORIO/le edizione NOLA/NA
Hella Berent has received guest lectureships in Hamburg, Geneva, Cairo, Dhaka, Trondheim, and two visiting professorships at the Summer Academy Salzburg, where she held lectures and readings.
Berent’s diverse practice combines drawing and sculpture, installation, art book, photograph, film/video. The central view on all aspects of life, of human existence directs her work, inspired by literature and philosophy, mythology and history. Her work reconsiders established systems of knowledge.
Hella Berent lives and works in Cologne, Berlin and abroad.