See True Beauty at Rafael Jablonka’s Best Kept Secret: Böhm Chapel

On Sundays a Philip Glass-designed bell chimes.

Jablonka hung three Philip Taaffe paintings for the first exhibition in the Chapel Image: Jablonka Galerie

The Böhm Chapel.
Image: Jablonka Galerie.

Circling ads in the Sunday newspaper often leads to seeing a late night movie, but for Cologne-based gallerist Rafael Jablonka it led to buying a chapel in a small town in rural Germany.

Jablonka, who has had a gallery in Cologne since the late 1980s and whose booth is always in prime position at major art fairs such as Art Basel and Frieze, learnt of the Böhm Chapel in 2010. “The guy who bought it as an investment didn’t know what to do with it so he sold it to me,” Jablonka told artnet News during a telephone interview. “I bought it to protect it. It was so beautiful that I decided to do shows there.”

What happens in his white cube Cologne gallery and what happens in the Böhm Chapel remain very separate, explains Jablonka, who represents artists such as Alex Katz, Eric Fischl, Nobuyoshi Araki, Mike Kelley, David LaChapelle and Richard Prince. “It’s not a normal gallery space, I don’t think about it commercially.”

Installation view of Sherrie Levine show in 2011 Image: Jablonka Galerie

Installation view of Sherrie Levine show in 2011.
Image: Jablonka Galerie.

“It’s an effort, but people come,” Jablonka says of the chapel, which is only open on weekends.

The first show in the space was comprised of just three triangular Philip Taaffe paintings, bright with kaleidoscopic patterns. The following exhibition showcased twelve simple vitrines each containing a Sherrie Levine Crystal Skull. Since then the chapel has been home to a series of David LaChapelle’s Jesus is My Homeboy photographs, a grouping of five Matt Mullican flags, and has been used as a gathering space for lectures and intimate concerts.

Jablonka hung three Philip Taaffe paintings for the first exhibition in the Chapel Image: Jablonka Galerie

Jablonka hung three Philip Taaffe paintings for the first exhibition in the chapel.
Image: Jablonka Galerie.

On Sundays a bell designed and cast by American composer Philip Glass chimes at midday.

Matt Mulligan at the Bohm Chapel  Image: Jablonka Galerie

Matt Mulligan at Bohm Chapel.
Image: Jablonka Galerie.

“If I like the artist I give him carte blanche. If I don’t like the work when it’s finished I tell them we have to change it. I’ll have a certain idea but I don’t push it if the artist has another idea,” Jablonka explains.

Platon is on view until  late September Image: Jablonka Galerie

Platon, Elsheba Khan at the grave of her son, Specialist Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan, in Section 60 of Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia (2008).
Image: Jablonka Galerie.

A Platon show of large black and white photographs capturing personal tragedies of war is on show until the end of September. In one image, a young mother cradles her son’s grave and in another a wife embraces her amputated husband who wears a T-shirt emblazoned with the word ARMY.

The next show in the chapel is a painting and music installation by Albert Oehlen, timed to go up just a few weeks after the German artist’s work comes down at New York’s New Museum.

Related stories:

Top 10 Museum Exhibitions in Germany This Summer You Don’t Want To Miss

Mike Kelley’s “Kandors” Lands at Hauser & Wirth New York This Fall

Cologne Fine Arts Launches Contemporary Branch – Is Art Cologne Getting a Competitor?


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