After all, we all know those one-night experiences that don’t necessarily cry out for a repeat. And from other nights something wonderful results. You can see and experience it in Lübeck’s Old Town in Gabi Bannow’s “Gallery for One Night,” which shows contemporary art in the building at Tünkenhagen 32 – an Old Town alley that, by the way, was first mentioned in 1313 and still has a cohesive picture of historic buildings.
I am enchanted every time I enter the gallery. This may be because I feel transported back to my childhood when unpackaged grocery stores were something completely commonplace. Only they weren’t called like that back then. Gabi Bannow’s grandparents ran their grocery store on the ground floor. Almost everything there looks the same as it did back then: the bag rack in front of the sales counter, the small bags for loose goods, the cash register. There are so many incredible details to discover. Gabi Bannow is by no means running a museum here. She uses the charming ambiance of the former store to showcase her artwork. The wooden drawers and wall shelves serve as a background for her paintings. Over time, Gabi Bannow has created a concept store here, where the historic interior provides an exciting contrast to her contemporary works.
Born in Lübeck, she practically grew up in this corner store. Her parents’ antique store, Bannow Antik, was just two streets away. So she often came to spend time with grandma and grandpa and to help stock the shelves. And she experienced daily that the grandmother sold not only goods to the clientele. The store was a focal point, a place where you could get news and pour your heart out. That’s why it doesn’t surprise me at all that Gabi Bannow wants to bring people together with and in her gallery. Just like her grandmother did back then – albeit by different means. With paints and canvas.
Sleeping Beauty Awakens
Since childhood her heart has been attached to drawing and painting. After graduating from the Ernestinenschule school, she decided to study fashion design at the then Fachhochschule für Gestaltung in Hamburg, which still shapes her work today. An education as a restorer for oil paintings followed. When Gabi Bannow and her children moved into her grandparents’ house, the historic building was still slumbering like an unkissed Sleeping Beauty. She has slowly come to appreciate this special place more and more, she says. She says the idea to make more of it came after she first participated in a Museum Night in 2006. Their exhibition “for one night” was THE insider tip of the museum night at that time. The public reacted exuberantly to this treasure in the middle of Lübeck’s Old Town and Gabi Bannow dared to turn the grocer’s store into a gallery and the one night into a love for life.
The development took place step by step, almost as if by itself. Gabi Bannow wants to invite people to her gallery and give them time to linger. With time to immerse onself in the images. And what could be a better way to do this than with a good cup of freshly brewed filter coffee and a piece of homemade cake? Not just any coffee, of course. The gallery owner has also trained as a barista and brews lightly roasted coffee from New York City, Barcelona and Copenhagen using Arabica beans. In Lübeck, her gallery café with its fine coffee assortment is therefore an insider tip.
This is exactly why I like Gabi Bannow’s carefully designed overall installation so much. Sitting at a kidney-shaped table, letting my gaze wander, I take in the painted scenes and trace the colours. I’m delighted with the dainty vintage furniture from the 1960s, which you can also buy right on the spot. And I feel thrown right back to my teenage years when I discover the macramé flower baskets hanging from the ceiling. Really everything comes back!
Gabi Bannow’s paintings unfold their effect in this inspiring environment. Body studies are her passion. She loves observing people and bringing everyday scenes from the big city to life in her paintings. People in the subway, waiting, staring at their smartphones.
Other works feature world-renowned musicians such as Bob Dylan, David Bowie and John Lennon & Yoko Ono. For these works she uses photos as templates. How did she come up with this theme? Gabi Bannow thinks that she can trace hidden longings, the rock star in her or the groupie. In any case, it is certain that painting gives her the chance to discover inner parts and to live them out by creating and using colours. She also questions herself and her work from time to time, tries out new things in her studio on the 2nd floor, deals with colours. Gives her images a chance to provide answers. When she still didn’t like her work “Special moment,” which shows the Beatles and the Stones sitting together on a train, even after several revisions, she left it for a while and suddenly realized quite clearly, “The picture is already complete.”
The artist regularly invites to readings and recitals. She makes her gallery available for the popular “Große Kiesau Literaturnacht” (Great Kiesau Literature Night) as well as for the annual Tanz in den Mai (Dance into May). Currently, of course, everything is different. The lockdown is hitting arts and culture professionals very hard. Meanwhile, Gabi Bannow reflects on her work. She clearly feels that painting does her good and strengthens her. She is simply grateful to life for the gift of being able to live her talents. With cautious optimism, she is planning an event with artist Agnes Julia Mann and musician Johannes Winde in July as part of the “Kulturfunke” campaign. The “Gallery for One Night” is usually open on Thursdays and Fridays from 3-6 p.m., and Saturdays from 11 a.m.-5 p.m.