Aurel Schmidt. Courtesy of Deitch Projects (76 Grand St).
Man Eater, an exhibition of new drawings by Aurel Schmidt, opens at Deitch Projects’ Grand Street space October 4. In this new body of work, Ms. Schmidt munches her way through Modernist masterpieces, transforming them with graphite and colored pencil into seething masses of interwoven debris.
Ms. Schmidt builds Arcimboldo-esque accumulations from street trash, the darker elements in nature, and researched historical imagery. Drawn with an elegant and sensitive line, she slurries together her brew of beasts and spreads them over the page to form faces, bodies, landscapes, or abstract artworks. A Grecian bust is transformed into a terrible tangle of twisting snakes. A face forms out of discarded fast food and maggots. A crooked cigarette butt smile appears over wormy lips as a woman’s burned out eyeholes stare blankly forward.
In Man Eater Ms. Schmidt adapts her technique of punk assemblage drawing to masterpieces of Modernist Art, gravitating towards the most iconic and most macho. Picasso’s Weeping Women are her first meal, eaten up with her eyes and transformed into shit with her pencil. Composition and color are retained while one lady’s hat becomes a nest of seagulls and pigeons, her eyes are transformed into circles of feeding flies, the eyebrows are drawn as crawling centipedes and her tears form pink cockroaches. For another weeper, her choker is drawn as a gravel neck brace, and her nematodal grimace is lined with melting lipstick teeth.