Located in Berlin’s sparkling neighborhood of Schöneberg, there’s a gem of an atelier sprinkled with the most amazing sculptures.
These bizarre, splendid creations are the work of German artist Hinrich Kröger, who turns the ancient craft of pottery into a true feast for the eyes, thanks to his unique style fueled by a strong punk-fetish aesthetic and a captivating eroticism. Let’s have a chat with him!
Hallo Hinrich and welcome to Visual Satiation!
Let’s start with an introduction: Can you tell us a bit more about yourself?
Hi! My name is Hinrich and I’m an artist and sculptor born and based in Berlin.
I’ve been producing and exhibiting my art which includes painting on ceramics, sculptures made of clay and drawings since 1995.
My works reflect my mastery with different materials.
Each piece is unique and it’s kneaded, modeled, glazed, painted, gilded (some of them even fired seven or eight times, to get it just so) in my studio in Berlin.
Can you give us some insight into your background and how it shaped the kind of person and artist you are today?
I grew up in Berlin then moved with my parents to Neu-Frauenmark in Mecklenburg.
My father, Joachim John, is a painter, graphic artist and a writer while my mom, Helga Kröger, is a veterinary surgeon and naturopath.
I studied pottery in “Zentrum Bildende Kunst Neubrandenburg” from 1982 till 1984, then I started working as a potter in various workshops in Berlin and in 1995 I completed my studies at the renowned “Hochschule für Bildende Künste Dresden” (Academy of Fine Arts in Dresden), where artists such as Otto Dix and Oskar Kokoschka were teachers.
In 1996 I founded my own gallery “Galerie und Werkstatt Hinrich Kröger” in Berlin.
What kind of themes fascinate you the most that you find yourself returning to in your art. What’s your usual process in creating your stunning sculptures?
I work with all kinds of clay and porcelain.
The large figures are made of different types of clay, depending on their size.
I use liquid porcelain for the porcelain works to cast various forms which are later assembled and modelled.
The larger porcelain figures are built up and modelled from coarsely grained porcelain mass.
Most of my ceramics and porcelain sculptures are fired at least four times and I use different glazes, depending on the technique.
Underglaze and overglaze paintings are created by using porcelain and underglaze colors and also body paintings.
My faiences, clays and porcelains depict a variety of subjects like greyhounds, poodles with raspberry-red noses sniffing each others, cross-eyed French bulldogs with a lascivious look, lions and panthers, tattooed boys and expensive girls, sailors, balloon-sized boxes with sunken worlds written on them, well-endowed men posing like a stripper with their penises tattooed or gigolos wearing old-fashioned haute couture.
How have the last couple of years been for you, and how is your life nowadays? What are you working on at the moment?
The last two years, during Corona, I was very busy moving my workshop and gallery from one district to another here in Berlin. After a long search I found the perfect spot where I can work, live and have my own gallery. A dream come true.
Beside being busy renovating my space, I was working for an exhibition in Austria and another big one in Hong Kong. All of this often pushed me to my limits but now everything is done and the new gallery has been open for one year and a half. The last move took place in June, therefore I’m still busy unpacking, reorganizing and setting up everything in the new workshop.
The next exhibition will take place on January 20th 2023.
It will be called “VATI“ and it celebrates my father, Joachim John, and his 90th birthday with his incredible paintings, drawings and prints along with my ceramic and porcelain work. The wonderful harpist Simonetta Ginelli will also play at the opening.
Lately, my biggest collector Jean Paul Gaultier featured my work for his latest Haute Couture Show in Paris and he also used those garments for the invitation card of the show. He actually personally called me to let me know about it just half an hour before the show started despite all the stress he must have had at that moment, which is hard to imagine.
Hinrich Kröger x Jean Paul Gaultier
Who are your favorite potters? Why?
There are so many…
However, one who played a big role in my life is ceramist Christina Renker, who’s located in Berlin-Pankow and she’s also a friend of my mother.
I was often left at her place as a small child, and while she was telling her adventures (which often weren’t meant for children’s ears), I’d get a piece of clay and knead animals, princesses, etc.
That’s probably the reason why I wanted to become a potter (if not an animal researcher) and that’s what I eventually became.
I got an apprenticeship diploma then I did my final secondary-school examinations and studied at the Academy of Fine Arts (otherwise I’d only be able to sell “currywurst” in Alexanderplatz with that kind of diploma I had).
In 1996 I founded my own workshop in the heart of Berlin and (55 years later) Christina Renker is still working in the same place in Berlin-Pankow making wonderful things.
How do you like to spend your time when you’re not working, and what’s your favorite spot in Berlin?
Oh, somehow I work all the time but I love to spend time in nature, as well as to lose myself in the night rush of Berlin, both on my own or together with my friends.
Lunchbox Candy Berlin
Botanical Garden Berlin
If you had a time machine, which historical period would you like to visit and why?
Somehow, the world we currently live in is so crazy, cruel and at the same time so beautiful and diverse… If I could, I would go back for a while to when my grandparents were young, in order to understand why their generation voted for Hitler and the fascists, why my grandfather enthusiastically went to war against Russia to murder and burn villages and towns. My grandfather paid with his own life in Russia and I don’t understand it because my grandmothers were good-hearted, simple people. I’d like to know why…
Who are your all-time favorite gay heroes?
Name something you like to collect.
Art and curiosities.
I love Henri Matisse, but I can’t afford him and unfortunately there are no paintings made by him in any museum here in Berlin.
Please show us one of your oldest creations.
This comes from a very old sketchbook.
I made it while living in East Berlin before the wall came down.
Lastly, let’s give you a few minutes to draw a caricature of yourself and see how it goes! Ready, set, go!
Thank you so much for being with us Hinrich!
We wish you all the best!