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"He is a soul portraitist who, like Munch, depicts psychological states that torment him."

-Nicola Kuhn, Der Tagesspiegel

Newspaper: Der Tagesspiegel
October 2, 2020
Author: Nicola Kuhn

Painting Away the Trauma

The US Artist Jai Mitchell was abused in his childhood. In his haunting images, he faces up to these memories

They still exist or they do again – the small Schöneberger galleries, off-spaces and studios: the Atelierhaus on Kyffhäuser Straße, a pop-up exhibition by Luxembourg curator Gilles Neiens in an empty apartment for Berlin Art Week, and the Russian conceptual artist Vadim Zakharow has his salon a stone’s throw away on Eisenacher Straße.

In Schöneberg, there are Galleries, Off-Spaces and many Studios

An art gallery could be built in the former tram depot on Belziger Straße, at least that was the idea of an initiative. The Hilaneh Photo Gallery by Kories is already there, and one corner further down there is the Under the Mango Tree gallery by Mini Kapur who offers a mixed program.

The Indian designer shows her own work and that of artist friends, hence the name of her gallery, which is reminiscent of her homeland and transports the idea of community.

Mini Kapur takes Artists under their Mango Tree

The dedicated gallery owner has now taken an American artist under her tree: 48-year-old Jai Mitchell, a self-taught artist who came to painting through workshops to overcome the trauma of abuse in his childhood.

The viewer cannot escape this knowledge. One automatically sees the suffering in the hushed bodies, blurred faces, from which a single eye stares again and again. If you take a closer look, you will discover cuts in the canvas that are impasto, mostly painted over with blue. Mitchell is a portrait painter, but most of all you believe to see him in their faces.

The Portrait of his Sister is a Requiem

An exception is the only concrete portrait, a portrait of his older sister with the title “Rana Dreamed She Was An Elephant”, which was created recently. It breaks out in color through the bright hatching in yellow, orange and red and yet it is anything but cheerful, because Rana passed away a few weeks ago. Unlike her brother, she was never able to overcome the traumatic experiences of her childhood.

This is also what the picture showing her as a pachyderm is about. “My sister Rana dreamed that she was an elephant. An elephant never forgets. That's the problem,” said Mitchell. He is a soul portraitist who, like Munch, depicts psychological states that torment him. His exhibition with the eloquent title "Unspoken. Unsaid" proves that his painting is more than a therapeutic tool. (Prices: 900–2600 Euros/$1057.00- $3054.00)

Under The Mango Tree, Merseburger Str. 14, through October 25; Wed – Fri 3.30pm – 7pm, Sat 1pm – 4.30pm, Sun 1pm – 4.30pm

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