The author in front of one of Wolfgang Beltracchi's impressive paintings | Photo: Moitao
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[UPDATE of 9.12.2018: Due to very good resonance and great encouragement of the visitors, the exhibition will be extended until January 13, 2019. There will also be at least one more highlight: On January 12 at 15 o'clock, Nietzsche expert Ulrich Sieg will speak under the headline "Great Expectations - Nietzsche, Women and Art".]


At the end of October I received an e-mail from ZOTT Artspace: "Exhibition with Wolfgang Beltracchi comes from Venice to Hamburg". That's very interesting, I thought to myself. Because I had already dealt intensively with Wolfgang Beltracchi's vita in the past (to be read in this and this blog article) and when he presents new projects, it's actually always worth seeing.

The current exhibition in Hamburg is called "KAIROS. The right moment" and will take place from November 20 to December 19, 2018 in the "Barlach Halle K" (between central station and the Deichtorhallen). I was invited to both the press conference and the vernissage on November 18. During the latter I was accompanied by Moitao. Both gave me ample opportunity to get a comprehensive impression of the works and the presentation.

But let's start at the beginning. What does Kairos actually mean? You know? Well, I didn't know. And so on that cold Friday morning, on my way to the press conference, I first pulled out my smartphone as soon as I had sat down on one of those red subway seats. Turning. Unlocking. Wiping twice. Typing. Waiting. Reading.

Aha, interesting: The term Kairos comes from a religious-philosophical context and describes the perfect time of a decision. Within Greek mythology, this was represented in the person of the god with the same name. But what does this have to do with Wolfgang Beltracchi, Mauro Fiorese - the photos from the award-winning series "Treasure Rooms", by the internationally renowned photographer, are also posthumously part of the exhibition - the pictures shown and me?

A lot. Christian Zott, art promoter and initiator of the exhibition, told me a little later after I arrived at the press conference. "KAIROS. The right moment" gives visitors the opportunity to see European art history through different eyes. Because it consists of numerous decisions that determine what has been recorded for posterity and what has not.

Christian Zott in conversation with Wolfgang Beltracchi
Christian Zott in conversation with Wolfgang Beltracchi | Photo: H. J. Ellerbrock

The pictures in the "Barlach Halle K" take their viewers on an alternative journey through the history of Western art and move the unseen into the spotlight. Photographer Mauro Fiorese's pictures focus on forgotten works, and Wolfgang Beltracchi's paintings on works that have never been painted before.

Zott wants to show the gaps with his project. It is precisely those works that have never been seen or painted that should experience their Kairos in a contemporary production. The idea came to him while wandering through Europe.

In the process, he also consolidated an astonishing insight, which created an aha effect on my side: Some moments can only represent a Kairos instant from today's perspective. Why? Because they presuppose a knowledge of events that the people of that time could not yet possess due to their early birth. A good example is the painting "HMS Beagle Leaving Devonport in 1831" in the handwriting of William Turner. That this moment would go down in history could not yet be anticipated at that time. To put it bluntly, "KAIROS. The right moment" dares nothing less than the attempt to make the (cultural-historically) invisible visible.

So the exhibition takes on a lot - and I'd like to reveal that much in advance - without overstrain itself. Wolfgang Beltracchi painted a total of 28 paintings in 27 different handwritings by great masters of European art of painting. The pictures of the exceptional artist thus cover a period of approximately 2,000 years. It is still true: Beltracchi is many.

The result are very good to breathtakingly beautiful pictures. Here is my TOP 5:

5. Charon | Handwriting: Gustav Klimt

All his life Gustav Klimt rejected a self-portrait. After his death some unfinished works remained in his studio. Wolfgang Beltracchi adds his Klimt self-portrait to them. He looks back for Klimt and his concept of art: the unfinished "bride" is reflected behind the artist and enters into a symbiosis with the ferryman Charon.

Painting: Charon by Wolfgang Beltracchi

Wolfgang Beltracchi, 2018
Handwriting: Gustav Klimpt, 1918, Vienna
Oil on canvas, 100,5 x 90,5 cm

4. Der grausame Komet | Handwriting: Hendrick Avercamp

With the onset of the first cold period of the Little Ice Age, between 1570 and 1630, winter landscapes were booming in the Netherlands. Although the extremely low temperatures were accompanied by much suffering, Hendrick Avercamp concentrated largely on the cheerful aspects of the long winters. The comet shown C/1618 W1 refers to the plight of mankind and evokes thoughts of the Thirty Years War.

Painting: Der grausame Komet by Wolfgang Beltracchi

Wolfgang Beltracchi, 2018
Der grausame Komet
Handwriting: Hendrick Avercamp, 1618, Kampen
Oil on wood, 27 x 22 cm

3. Boulevard des Capucines 15 avril 1874 | Handwriting: Claude Monet

Monet was acquainted with the all-rounder and photographer Félix Tournachon. During a visit to his studio he painted the Boulevard des Capucines. The special thing about Wolfgang Beltracchi's painting is that he turns the perspective around in it. One looks at the famous studio. This illustrates a view at Impressionism: it can be understood as an examination of photography.

Painting: Boulevard des Capucines 15 avril 1874

Wolfgang Beltracchi, 2018
Boulevard des Capucines 15 avril 1874
Handwriting: Claude Monet, 1874, Paris
Oil on canvas, 119 x 88,5 cm

2. HMS Beagle Leaving Devenport in 1831 | Handwriting: William Turner

In the early to mid-30s of the 19th century, the research vessel "HMS Beagle" circumnavigated the globe to carry out cartographic measurements. On board: None other than Charles Darwin. He will later justify his theory of evolution with the knowledge and data he gains on this journey. Theoretically, Darwin and Turner could have met in Devonport and this painting could have been the result. But that didn't happen and so Beltracchi composes this historical moment in Turner's painting style.

Painting: HMS Beagle Leaving Devenport in 1831

Wolfgang Beltracchi, 2018
HMS Beagle Leaving Devonport in 1831
Handwriting: William Turner, ca. 1840, London
Oil on canvas, 78 x 115,5 cm

1. Gruppenbild Blauer Reiter | Handwriting: Heinrich Campendonk

The format of this picture is based on Kadinsky's "Composition V" and shows a group portrait of the most important members of the "Blaue Reiter" gathered in front of the "Münter-Haus". Herinrich Campendonk's work was undoubtedly strongly influenced by the group of artists. They were looking for progressive means of expression. The artist's interior began to be reflected in the subject and its presentation.

Painting: Gruppenbild Blauer Reiter by Wolfgang Beltracchi

Wolfgang Beltracchi, 2017
Gruppenbild Blauer Reiter
Handwriting: Heinrich Campendonk, 1914, Murnau
Oil on canvas, 190 x 275 cm

These were, for me personally, the five artistic highlights of the exhibition. Another highlight that makes access to all the works easier and dispays it in a modern way is the KAIROS Exhibition app. It guides the user through the project using multimedia and provides in-depth information on each image, which can be called up dynamically via image recognition.

The app for smartphones and tablets can be used both inside and outside the exhibition and even offers VR effects (3D glasses are supported). The following video gives a good impression:

So, that brings us to the end of my article. I hope it made you a little curious and made you want to get your own impression of the exhibition. If so, you can visit it in Hamburg until December 19, 2018:

„KAIROS. The right moment“

  • Barlach Halle K, Klosterwall 13, 20095 Hamburg
  • Tues. to Sun. 11 - 19 o'clock, closed on Mondays
  • Admission: 6 Euro
  • Further information can be found here:


  • Art tours and music by pupils of the Wilhelm-Gymnasium
  • December 7, 2018
  • 19 - 23 o'clock
  • Admission: Pay what you want

Before Hamburg "KAIROS. The right moment" gave a guest performance in Venice. Around 27,000 people visited the exhibition there. I keep my fingers crossed that Hamburg will follow suit and attract numerous visitors interested in art.

Don't miss this chance. Next, the travelling exhibition under the direction of Christian Zott will probably also stop in New York. This might be a bit too far for a weekend trip.