In the Tagesspiegel
A Berlin Icon vanishes
After almost 30 years since the fall of the Berlin wall, the ubiquitous and very popular GDR (former East German) stores start to disappear from this planet. I painted this picture, “150x” in 2015 showing one of the 150 former HO Kaufhalle stores from the 70’s and 80’s. These former sites of socializing in queues and selecting from an array of 3600 products were, This particular store is located between Berlin Mitte and Prenzlauer Berg. The architecture of these identical buildings and their seeming bastions of concrete made a lasting impression on this Canadian expat. These for me stand as iconic for the eastern part of Berlin and a daily reminder of the deep history associated with so much of Berlin architecture.
After 1990, these were often turned into Kaisers supermarkets.The red color of the Kaisers logo could be seen all over the city, 150 stores were advertised. The symbol 150x emblazoned as an expression of the permanence and pervasiveness of this daily temple of bounty. These 150 red beacons were as well shut down and taken over by other supermarket chains in 2017. The next step in this process will see the buildings replaced by expensive apartment houses. So goes the gentrification process in Berlin as well..
Lorenz Maroldt, the chief editor of the Tagesspiegel, Berlin’s main daily newspaper bought this painting for his corporate office in 2015. He might dream about former times, when he used to shop until midnight in the Kaisers store close to his home, looking exactly the same as the one on the painting. On Sunday the Tagesspiegel published an article about the history of those shops,this history largely unknown to the barrage of people nowadays moving to Berlin.
My painting was shown in half-page format in this Sunday edition it seems that it resonated with many Berliners, reminding them of varied and personal experiences.
I am very proud to be part of this story!