Albrecht Schnider

Around and very close
March 19 – April 23, 2016

The exhibition Around and very close by Albrecht Schnider is the artist’s fifth solo presentation at Galerie Thomas Schulte. It combines paintings in acrylic lacquer with a selection of drawings, offering an insight into Schnider’s particular approach to painting.

Albrecht Schnider’s paintings appear perfectly constructed, meticulously planned, organised and executed. In a step towards an industrialised image production and to avoid irregularities in the paint layer through visible brushstrokes the artist has decided to use sprayed acrylic lacquer instead of paint. To that end, Schnider works with the aid of a technician in Zurich, who in producing and placing the stencils follows the artist’s detailed instructions. The abstract, organically and geometrically shaped fields of colour are superimposed onto monochrome backgrounds and remain within their clear-cut boundaries. Alternating either between two different colours or between black and white the obtuse shapes oscillate between figure and ground, positive and negative image, an effect which is enhanced by the absolute flatness and smoothness of the picture plane.

All of Schnider’s paintings are preceded by drawings and indeed the process of painting has been described by the artist himself as the mere execution of the work. The creative act happens in the drawing, and is followed by the analysis of the shapes, and the constructive in the choice of colours and forms, all of which are part of the Schnider’s process of image production. As an artist Schnider considers himself therefore first and foremost a draughtsman. The repetitive and intuitive act of drawing has become a necessity and is exercised by the artist daily, with great continuity and diligence. In the artist’s quest for ever greater harmony and homogeny in his images, the act of drawing serves to intuitively and instinctively find and invent new shapes, which the artist collects in his pattern books to be analysed, measured and transferred into geometric schemes. The drawings in the exhibition exemplify the mostly organic and flowing style of drawing that is underlying most of his painterly process. Mostly faceless and almost abstract allusions to portraits they are more the depictions of a portrait in its substance than the representation of any person in particular.

Next to the groups of drawings and the lacquer paintings, Schnider has included into the exhibition a group of recent small format paintings, which to the artist signify somewhat of a departure from the lacquer paintings. Using a reduced palette of rather mute colours here the artist works on the raw linen directly, contrasting the smooth surface of the paint with the structure of the carrier material. Without touch, just by looking, we can almost feel the rough but simultaneously warm texture of the fabric in contrast with the closed, spotless surface of the paint. In comparison with the lacquer paintings, the abstract shapes in the three small paintings have lost their angles in favour of more rounded, organic forms. Working on the ungrounded canvas introduces a new clarity in the distinction between figure and ground adding to the paintings an almost sculptural quality as the painted figure appears to hover superimposed onto the background.

Albrecht Schnider (born 1958, in Lucerne, Switzerland) studied at the Hochschule für Gestaltung and the University of Berne. He has received numerous grants and awards for his artistic practice, including Eidgenössisches Kunststipendium in 1989, 1990, and 1992; Istituto Svizzero in Rome in 1990, and the award Manor-Kunstpreis of Lucerne in 1994. In 1998 Kunsthalle Berne presented Schnider’s first solo exhibition and since then the artist has exhibited extensively including museums and institutions in Lucerne, Zurich, Solothurn, and Aarau. In 2011, his works were exhibited in an exhibition under the title Am Ereignishorizont at Haus am Waldsee, Berlin. Most recently his works were shown at Marc Jancou in New York and at a comprehensive solo exhibition at Helmhaus, Zurich. Since 1998, Albrecht Schnider lives and works in Berlin.