Johann König

Photo Marco Fischer

©월간미술 Wolganmisool monthly art magazine/ Aug 2022

Interview with Johann König

 Jung Me Chai

What are the main differences between making crypto art exhibitions to classical ones with tangible artworks?

So actually, they’re not so many differences because you need to produce the work. You need to hang it and install it. So it’s actually quite similar when thinking of doing a show here at the gallery or DeCentral, and although the digital possibilities of cause a much broader and antenna limitations to what is possible. For example, if there’s no gravity.


The gallery held the first NFT auction on the OpenSea as part of the group exhibition THE ARTIST IS ONLINE last year and presented DIGITAL PAINTINGS AND SCULPTURES IN A VIRTUAL WORLD at Decentraland. What brought you to do this step?

So the motivation then was really to enter the Metaverse and understand the mechanics. I think you can only learn and understand how this works if you do it, and the biggest learning was that It’s still very divided between crypto and non-crypto. That’s why we developed a solution, we are selling NFTs on our website at König He can also pay with a credit card and PayPal when interested in people. And so our aim is always to widen the art world and make more people join and this for we wanted to build this bridge between crypto and via payments, which we achieved. And just recently, launched Alicja Kwade DNA minted on Ethereum blockchain.


The show with the NFT artist Refik Anadol was impressive inside and outside KÖNiG GALERIE. What triggered you to make this exhibition, and what was the critical issue for making this show?

In terms of Refik Anadol and the gallery program, we try always to show the most relevant artists in their respective fields. So we show Katharina Grosse see as an abstract painter. We have looked into the digital art field and tried to understand who the most important figures are for quite some time ago. And then I discovered Refik Anadol. I started a conversation with him quite some time ago and was happy enough to convince him to join the gallery. Now we represent him and join him on his journey.


Making a crypto art exhibition is not just the congestion of digital artworks, virtual spacetime, technology, and artists. What is your perception of crypto art?

Exactly. Good question. I think that crypto art means digital art, and I think it’s very important.  As I said before, we try to bridge both spaces and bring the digital artist into the facility’s physical world and the physical artist into the digital. So that’s why we are extremely proud of the project. We did it with Alicja Kwade. Kwade, the artist, printed her entire genome on 259.025 A4 sheets of paper. Whilst 99.9% of all human DNA is identical, Kwade highlighted her individual and unique profile in bold text. With approximately12,000 sheets. Now, you can acquire her DNA in pieces. Each NFT represents 25 pages.


Will you keep showing the crypto art and metaverse related presentations?

We will keep showing crypto art, but it’s not our focus. So we try it as a gallery to provide space, that space exists in the podcast in the Decentraland in different galleries in art world presentation, and crypto is one part of it, but not the main part. But to make the space and the platform more accessible to more artists, we found MISA.ART., which is a separate entity from König Gallery. This leads to your next question.


Buying art online will be more expected that collectors are almost grown up with digital artworks and are familiar with the media?

Exactly. That’s why we are offering works on the website of  KÖNiG GALERIE  and have a quite complex system where more relevant collectors see more inventory than general ones. And then we founded MISA.ART is a marketplace for physical and digital art.


You /KÖNiG GALERIE run three podcasts, WAS MIT KUNST, KÖNIG KUNST and KUNST CRIME. Why podcasts?

So I grew up in an artist household and was surrounded by art from day one. And for me, it’s very important to make the artwork more inclusive and easier to access. And I think this goes by education and learning. So that’s why Investment Kunst we talk about art quite casually, so then there’s a voice from the off coming and explaining the context. Because I think it’s also important to understand that artists are people like all of us. Sometimes it’s a more coincidence how they became who they are today. In terms of KUNST CRIME, I think it’s interesting to speak about the insides of the art market because they are usually more known to a broader audience. And that’s a great opportunity also with the blockchain because it’s more transparent, you know, there can be less forgery. I would say a highlight of KUNST CRIME. Let me think.


As far as I am informed, KUNST CRIME highlights crimes from the world of art. Are there episodes that you want to introduce? 

One of the highlights of KUNST CRIME is when I talk to Helge Achenbach, who is an art adviser who spent time in jail for screwing clients and for commissions, and this is also something the blockchain would pretend from happening.


Which exhibition was most challenging for you as a gallerist, and why?

Definitely, Refik Anadol was one of the most challenging exhibitions. Because of the masses of people who came in. We had to orchestrate this amount of people. And so everybody had a good experience, and still, they could see the show and time.


The COVID-19 outbreak has a growing impact on almost everything. Do we need to rethink the paradigms for art exhibitions?

I definitely think that COVID-19 changed everything and made many things possible. For example, for us, we have found MISA.ART.

I also think that we will rethink art fairs. We also learned how lucky we are with our spaces. Because they’re very unique and special and provide a unique experience, I think the experience is an addition to digital Innovation and will be very much needed because that’s something you can replace.


Could you tell us a bit about your plans?

 I mean, I really look forward to travelling to Korea because I haven’t been there for so long. To attend the Fries Art fair. And I would say that’s like, on top of my looking forward plans and let me know if you could listen to everything and if my answers are sufficient too, thank you. Bye.