lab II/2020lab II/2020
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Simon Schede

"lab II/2020"

July 03 – July 29, 2020


In his painting of the last few years, Simon Schede has, according to his own statement, been concerned with "dissolving the representational". Now one could say: "But we already had that" - about a century ago. But one may counter this objection by saying that since the 1980s, the decade in which Schede was born, at the latest, one can no longer speak of an avant-garde, of any teleology in the development of art. Of course, there is still 'Emerging Art', because the market has to be regularly fed with something new, but since then everything has been allowed in principle, both in terms of content and aesthetics; and incidentally, when Schede dissolves the representational, he clearly does so with today's means - both theoretical and practical.Theoretically, he has worked intensively with models from perception theory and the neurosciences. These are fields of research that have produced many new findings in recent decades - findings that should be of interest to art theorists and artists, but Schede's interest in them is more the exception than the rule. Even the pioneers of abstraction consulted the contemporary sciences to rationally substantiate their adventure. Schede's search for a theoretical foundation is thus part of a venerable tradition - but something like this must look very different today than it did a hundred years ago.

The same applies to the practical means: Kandinsky or Mondrian took as their starting point the reproduction of seen reality and, through simplification and stylization, arrived at abstraction. Schede took as his point of departure technically reproduced pictorial worlds, which he dissolved with the help of the computer and mixed beyond recognition. The transformation into painting resulted in abstract brush traces, which may remind us of the gestural painting of the 50s. Such brushstrokes occupy a prominent place in the monumental painting that he submitted as a final paper for his Bachelor's examination at the Hamburg College of Fine Arts (HFBK). In the works that followed, they took on a life of their own, mutating, as it were, into objectivations of the gestural, as we know them from artists such as Jonathan Lasker, Antonie Tàpies or Bram Bogart.
Schede has obviously completed the dissolution of the representational with his final thesis, and one can be curious to see what will follow!
But the exhibition also shows two older paintings, created before Schede set out on the path of dissolving the representational. You could call them 'object pictures', because they look like Reclam magazines in terms of format and design, only that their surface texture is that of an oil painting. Reclam notebooks remind Schede of his school days, of the most general access to education. The painted titles Necronomicon and Poetics of Comedy will not be found on the publisher's website. They are fictitious books that do not actually exist. The Necronomicon is a fictional magic book, which was invented at the beginning of the 20th century by H. P. Lovecraft, the famous American author of horror and fantasy literature, and which inspired many other authors, and was even taken up by popular culture and in computer games; and Umberto Eco, in his novel In the Name of the Rose, invented a second part of Aristotle's Poetics, which is about humour, and a copy of which was kept under lock and key in a monastery. There is something threatening about both fictional books: reading them is dangerous, which stimulates fantasies about their content. Schede's painting objects cannot be read either, and as pictures they invite interpretation anyway, but by referring to Reclam they suggest the opposite of the invented titles: accessibility.
Like a red thread running through all of Schede's works is his interest in reality, or rather the objecthood of painting in relation to representation, or rather in relation to content reference. In doing so, he adopts for himself the modernist concept of art, according to which form and content must form a unit that cannot be separated - contrary to the prevailing tendency today to treat them rather separately, whereby art is reduced to the role of illustrating its external content. This detachment from the mainstream gives Schede's work a very topical explosive force.

(Franz W. Kaiser)