Interview with Nir Altman – Nir Altman Galerie

I’m a few minutes late.   Heading over to Ringseisstrasse 4, I looked at my watch and wondered how punctual Nir Altman expected me to be.  I was four minutes late in a land where everyone is ten minutes early.

Turning right into the pathway leading to the rear buildings, I walked on marble squares that look like discarded headstones. Should I stop and take some photos? Would Nir mind me being five minutes late?

Heading to the entrance of the gallery, the glass door opened and Nir Altman  invited me into his space with a smile.  Four minutes seemed to be within the acceptable window of lateness for Mr. Altman who moved to Munich from Israel where 20 minutes late is the norm.

The gallery is a newly renovated space that used to be a boutique.  Nir exposed the metal support beams in the space to give his gallery a more industrial flare.  Walking around the space, I looked at the artwork from his first Munich exhibition before settling down at his desk for a chat about his new gallery and his love of contemporary art.

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Nir Altman who was born into a family of collectors and this exposure propelled him to open a gallery in Tel Aviv with a fellow collector. For many years Nir worked on developing the Mika Gallery but found that the buyers in Tel Aviv were interested in artwork that didn’t quite match his focus.

After some soul searching, Nir parted ways with his business partner at the Mika Gallery and decided to move to Munich and open a new gallery focused exclusively on the artwork he wanted to promote. “I decided to move to Munich rather than Berlin because there seems to be more opportunities to grow.  In Berlin, there are hundreds of galleries whereas in Munich there are only a handful of galleries focusing on contemporary art. ”

Nir feels that Munich has the potential to become an art destination and he wants to make it a reality by investing his time and his resources   “I want collectors to come to Munich to buy contemporary art. I want them to trust me in selecting artwork and artists for their collections.”

Growing his gallery is important for Nir who believes that art is an investment and needs to be shown to collectors in the way the artist intended. ” We talk with the artists we represent about how the artwork should be presented and try to show their work in the best way possible. For example, in our next exhibition, we have invested in digital equipment to make sure that the presentation of the work is as close as possible to the artist’s intention.” 

Having grown up with art, Nir feels very secure in his choice of artists. “I must believe in the artists I represent and we have to have a connection.  This connection is important because I want them to partner with me in building their art careers and selling their work.  I have nothing without the artists so our relationships must always be a win/win situation.”

Although Nir represents a list of artists, he is always looking for artists that will fit with his gallery concept no matter where they are from.  “I will continue to look for artists that I connect with and believe are serious about their art careers. Currently I find them through associates, other artists, art fairs and through the internet.  I have artists from Germany Israel and from Scotland and my focus is on talented emerging artists, not a particular nationality.”

Although Nir sees the importance of online galleries, he feels that art fairs are more interesting for his gallery’s growth. “I plan to attend several German and international fairs and will probably go with a small group of artists that I currently represent.  Art fairs are a perfect place for collectors to see hundreds of artists at the same time and a great opportunity for galleries.  Over the next few years, we will work on getting space at fairs like Art Basel, Frieze and Art Cologne.”

In Munich, the Nir Altman Galerie will focus on installations, video art, sculptures, conceptual artwork,  paintings and drawings.  “I have a long term plan for the gallery. We have made the investment in the gallery space and look forward to sharing it with Munich through artists talks, exhibitions and special events.”

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The next exhibition opening for the Nir Altman galerie is Noa Gur
Body vs Superstructure. Vernissage is on June 3, 2016 @1930

Interview : HNRX – European Street Artist

Munich Artists Munich street art HNRX April 201612986750_1011001038955043_632427628_oAn email arrived with a map and a message. HNRX would be painting a mural on a Munich wall and I was invited to visit.

Heading over to the wall, I watched the artist spraying paint from on top of a narrow metal ladder.  Catching his attention, the artist descended from his perch and we stood staring at his work in progress and talking about his life and art.

Why Munich?

I came to Munich because of Loomit.  My first time painting here was in 2013 and over the last few years, I’ve collaborated with several Munich based street artists.  I like the city because it is close to my home in Austria and it is a unique place to work.

How do you find the walls you’re going to paint in Munich?

Loomit invited me to paint pieces at the Kult Fabrik which is like a museum of street art. Some of the pieces are really old and Loomit will let you know what spaces are available for painting.

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In other areas of town, if I’m painting a larger piece, I will  let the city know that I plan to paint the wall and then I send in a proposed art piece.  My original drawing for this wall was vetoed so I sent in another drawing and that one was approved. I never run out of ideas so this kind of thing is never a problem. I feel that to be painting street art, you need to really want to do it and never give up.

For smaller pieces, I look around for a place where I can put a piece and where it may stay awhile.

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Do you find it easy to paint street art in Munich?

There are not that many areas around town where you can paint so I just look around and decide where I think a piece would work.   For the current piece, I called the police ahead of time to let them know I was starting my piece and that I had permission from the city but the police still came out to the wall.

At the beginning of the art piece, people are not so friendly. They don’t know what is happening and shout that I’m making graffiti.  The art piece at the beginning is a sketch and doesn’t look like the finished piece but my work is not graffiti, it is art and I spend quite a bit of time and money creating it.

Do you get paid for painting your large murals?

If the work is a commission, I get paid but for my own art pieces, I’m funding the materials myself which is expensive for large walls.  I’m working full time as an artist so I’m actively selling smaller works to raise funds for the large public artworks. The current piece is self funded. The city gave me permission to paint the wall but no funds to cover the costs.

Why do you make such large art pieces?

I enjoy making large artworks and working on walls. I love the texture and the flaws in the wall.  I prefer to have a painting surface that isn’t perfect. I tried painting on canvas and found it unappealing. I love the challenge of spraying on outdoor walls.

I also love connecting with the public.  I would never want to be isolated in a studio full time.  My urban murals ask people to pay attention and offers them some love and freedom.  Although I keep up with current events and I’m a vegan,  I don’t use my art to make political statements, people get enough of that from the media, they don’t need that from my art.

How long does it take you to paint the walls?

For the current wall, it took four hours just to roll the base coat on the wall.  I’ve scheduled 2 -12 hour days for painting the wall near Candidplatz.

Do you have specific themes?

I make art everyday and I have lots of ideas.  Right now I’m focusing on little things that people take for granted.  What they may overlook in their daily lives.  I’m also delving into surrealism.

Are you a trained artist?

My mother is an artist but I learned street art from creating street art and by doing it.  I attended architectural school but I don’t see that as part of my art training.  I found that I needed to let go of the straight precision of architecture to make my street art.  I love making art that isn’t perfect and where you don’t have to follow specific rules – you don’t have that freedom as an architect but in my art, I’m free to make things which are impossible in reality.

How do you feel when someone paints over your art pieces?

I’m making street art.  Usually it is up for a few days before it gets damaged or covered.  One time, I created a piece in London with a friend and the piece was tagged the day after we finished.   My friend was really upset because we spent two days painting the piece but I know that is just part of creating art on the street.

The street is open to all artists. You can’t be angry with other artists for doing to your piece what you have done to the piece that was there before yours.  That is street art. Covering is part of the process.

Do you make small artwork that people can buy?

I support myself through commissions and selling artwork painted on cardboard. I love using cardboard because it is easy to store and has an uneven texture similar to the walls .  I have a gallery in Innsbruck, Vienna and here in Munich.  I’m also have an exhibition in July at the Die Faerberei starting on July 15th.

HNRX painting details into his pineapple


Note:  The street art festival is happening soon.  If you want to see HNRX’s work down on Tumblingerstrasse, I suggest you head over soon to check them out.  Most of them have already been damaged but you can still see the pieces through the chrome. Here are a few more pieces of this art piece at Candidplatz