Elizabeth Dee Gallery is pleased to present the New York solo debut of Berlin-based artist Erik Schmidt. The exhibition will include a series of new paintings and a video work.
Marked by a particularly plastic and muscular approach to painting, Schmidt’s work maintains a complex and, at times, contrary relationship with its subject matter. His unconventional and distinct painting style exploits thick brushwork and heightened impasto in the creation of surfaces that command attention to the materiality of paint as much as to the scenes and scenarios depicted. However, that is not to say that the topics of Schmidt’s paintings are incidental. Each body of work is predicated on the artist’s immersion in a particular social rite or location-the hunting rituals of the German aristocracy in a body of work from 2006 and the arid, haunting landscape of the Ella Valley situated between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv in this most recent work-that carry specific connotations and codes for the viewer who deciphers its identity. Yet in his treatment of these subjects, Schmidt’s working of the canvas surface and handling of color creates an extraordinary tension between form and content, representation and abstraction.
In his latest paintings, tubular twists of brilliant color spring from white flat fields of painted ground, building up an exuberant yet deliberate structure through which one can discern expansive scenes of olive trees and grazing sheep, and intimate depictions of rocky enclaves and migrant workers absorbed in both their task and their environment. What appears as a decisive narrative element quickly becomes subsumed by an interruption of pictorial logic, a rupturing of paint from surface that explodes into an excess of detail and material. Such push and pull presents the dynamic affirmation of an alternate thread in the post painting discourse of the past several years. Bound by neither a need for historical references nor a demonstration towards recent stylistic preferences for thin washes and a graphic sensibility, Schmidt forges his own radical path in pursuit of a singular painting experience.
This is Erik Schmidt’s first show with Elizabeth Dee. He has had solo exhibitions with carlier | gebauer in Berlin and at the Museum MARTa Herford, Germany. His work has been featured in group exhibitions at Museo Reina Sofia, Madrid; Kunstmuseum, Bonn; ICA, London; Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin; Artists Space, New York; and Barbara Gladstone, New York. In 2007, Hatje Cantz published the first monograph on the artist’s work titled Hunting Grounds.