Artist Dzine

Called Imperial Nail Salon, the Chicago-based artist's first major solo exhibit in Germany brought a bit of body bling to the city’s Galerie Henrik Springmann.

NAILING IT IN BERLIN: Berlin is known as a hot-spot for edgy creativity — contemporary art, street art, sound art — and now nail art, thanks to Chicago-based artist Dzine (pronounced ‘design’). His first major solo exhibition in Germany, called Imperial Nail Salon, brings a bit of body bling to the city’s Galerie Henrik Springmann.

The show, which includes paintings and wearable nail sculptures, went literal on opening night, setting up a pop-up salon in the gallery’s front room, with two nail artists on hand to paint and polish. Poland’s Monika Zbijowska of Top Nail World provided doodles and dots, while London’s Sophie Robson, whose nail work can be found on the blog This is Nail Porn, was busy filing nails into pointed talons.

Dzine’s work, which has been shown in the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, the Venice Biennale, Art Basel Miami, the Museo del Barrio, New York and more, focuses on the culture of customization, from cars to sneakers to fingernails. For this series of works, and his book on nail adornment, “Nailed,” which was released last year, he took as his inspiration how people express personal identity with colors, jewels and shapes at their fingertips. He also remembers how his mother ran a bootleg salon in their family home, and the way it brought people together. He hopes to do the same thing with his art, as well as bringing people into galleries who might otherwise never venture in.

“Here you have someone like Monika from Poland who isn’t very familiar with the art world, bringing her into this context of the gallery or the museum. And then you have some of these collectors who would never enter a salon to get their nails done,” laughs Dzine. “When you get these two people together, the interaction is exactly what I find common in every single nail salon…that for me is the premise of the whole project .”

Imperial Nail Salon includes neon salon signs, layered paintings made of gleaming automotive paint, resin and costume jewelry, a gilded and bauble-bordered bicycle, and faux-jewel encrusted middle finger rings complete with fake metal nails rings for making righteous gestures at ex-lovers. In advance of the show, almost all of the works on display had been sold to keen collectors.

Imperial Nail Salon opened November 10 and runs through December 29 at Berlin’s Galerie Henrik Springmann.