Reflex Amsterdam presents Iris Schomaker’s new body of work I Wish I Were a River. Here, the artist interrogates the space between abstraction and figuration on a wonderous quest to transform complexity into clarity.
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The paintings on paper are predominately rendered in black and white, with a rare tender streak of colour to intensify the emotive essence of the work and the compositional elements. This is further orchestrated by the artist’s attentive eye towards geometrical shapes which proffer the works rhythm and texture. At this exhibition, several medium sized works are available; a rare occurrence of Schomaker’s oeuvre.
Solitude runs through the artist’s works as a red thread by her use of lonesome figures caught in moments of rest or contemplation. They read, take a bath, or sit on their own. On the large painting, Untitled (Vera/ fox/ rose blanket), 142,5 x 239 cm, a figure reclines on a geometrically rendered bed that covers the canvas horizontally. Shielded by a rose blanket covering most of the body, the figure’s head is supported by a sleeping fox. The theme of solitude is often interrupted by surprising features such as these, infusing the mundane scenes with an air of imagination. The pairing of animals and humans appear as a signifier of a rare energy retained by certain people.
Over the course of her career, Schomaker has perfected her geometric shapes and serene, simple compositions. Yet, the painterly process never remains a secret. The reworkings are revealed by the texture of the paint; the rose blanket is almost transparent so we can gaze at the outline of the figure and the soft grey lines by the feet have been painted over. This is the result of her working method. Upon beginning a work, the artist collects several previously made drawings to compose a new work. From these drawings, new drawings emerge to structure the painting. Once the painting, made with oil and charcoal, has reached its first form, Schomaker asks herself “what can go”. The process of erasing and stripping back the painting give them a drawing-like quality. The result are puzzling, intelligible compositions which evidence the artist’s persistent act of effacing anything unnecessary.
This is particularly evident on the landscape paintings which allows for a new freedom. In the never-ending exercises of reducing everything to its most basic form, the natural world lets the artist loose of any obligations to realism. The organic shapes and visible brushstrokes which compose these scenes render the landscapes tactile and mark a transitory moment in which we are carried into the world of the artist at work. The show, I wish I Were a River, borrows its title from Gaston Bachelard’s book Water and Dreams (1947) which describes water’s endless qualities, encapsulating everything from its clarity to its violence. Schomaker’s works necessitate a similar complex description: They are just as uncanny as they are beautiful, they are daydreams and realistic all at once. To view Schomaker’s works is like studying water; what first appears simple demands our full attention to comprehend.
Iris Schomaker (Stade, Germany, 1973) studied fine arts in Kiel and Hamburg as well as in Trondheim and Bergen in Norway. She participated in various national and international exhibitions, including Sammlung Friedrichshof, Vienna (2018), Kunstverein Schwimmhalle Schloss Plön (2016), Beijing International Art Biennale (2015), Mediation Biennal, Poznan (2014), Museum Sinclair-Haus, Bad Homburg (2014), Frankfurter Kunstverein (2013), Kunsthaus Stade (2013), Schloss Salzau (2009), and Staatliche Galerie, Zoppot (2001). Her works can be found in several public and many private collections.
Courtesy of the artist and Reflex, Amsterdam