Vernissage: November 8 2022, 19 h, artists present, curator and publicist Dr. Björn Vedder speaks about the exhibition.
Exhibition from: November 9 2022
Tue – Fri 12 – 18 h, Sat 11 – 14 h
Krinzinger Schottenfeld is pleased to present Re-Retreat, Erik Schmidt’s latest solo exhibition, which adds new elements and materials to the elusive paradise he created with his previous project, Retreat. Born in 1968, the polyhedral German painter’s creative explorations are often informed by narratives of his travel experiences and his desire to illustrate what he perceives through encounters with foreign cultures.
The exhibition takes us on a six-week journey the artist made to Sri Lanka last spring. Together we travel to the villages around the capital Colombo, where mass protests began in March 2022 and spread throughout the country. Protests by people who – thirteen years after the end of a long civil war – are still recovering from the crisis and are now struggling with an economic crisis that includes power outages and shortages of basic goods such as fuel, food and medicine.
In No Crisis, a series of drawings based on photographs taken as he roamed the streets, Schmidt identifies individuals from the stream of people engrossed in their rhythms of life or activities and portrays them on the pages of newspapers from which he receives daily national news. The result is an extremely expressive juxtaposition of thick brushstrokes that provide a real insight into the local community and, despite the limited color range and high humidity of the area, also show the “political ground” of that community. Some portraits, on the other hand, are developed later in his studio, using the particular technique of painting over printed canvas to depict his dynamic, optical filtering of the world.
Overwhelmed by an environment with such political connotations, even the painter’s fascinated gaze is compromised. In Palm Bombs, small sketches and large-scale paintings based on photographs of palm trees taken during the residency at One World Foundation, nature itself is transformed into a war zone. Schmidt’s perspective allows the viewer to look down on the palm trees, which is normally forbidden to avoid damage from falling coconuts. The impasto technique here overshadows the photograph with an aggressive note, and the paint achieves a tangible sculptural aspect by transforming internal vibrations into pure, disturbing color: Fruits thus become bombs, palm leaves their explosive jets.
What is left of these explosions lies on the floor of the room, perhaps fallen from the same trees, they seem like weapons and hand grenades. More newspaper pages lie on a hanger, overwritten with catchphrases, as if desperately trying to erase the news they are forced to read. The expectation that this palm house is a paradise fades and brings us back to the violent failure of civilization.
The futile search for a place of refuge is also echoed in the two videos Fine and Inizio, thematically related to the paintings but set in a different geographical and temporal context. The scenario shifts from tangible reality to Schmidt’s own inner dimension, the lost paradise in which the illusion of a place of refuge is once again unattainable. A kind of self-exploration through feelings of guilt and catharsis, which are undoubtedly due to the restlessness of his life’s journey, finally result in the conscious realization that there is no longer any place in the world for retreat.
Text: Silvio Saraceno
ERIK SCHMIDT: Re-Retreat
8 Nov 2022 - 14 Jan 2023
Schottenfeldgasse 45, 1070 Wien, Österreich
Erik Schmidt, Suham Turtle, 2022, Öl auf Fine Art Print, auf Leinwand, 150 x 70 cm, courtesy Galerie Krinzinger und Erik Schmidt