Jasmin Schmidt: The Arena Enigma
9 March until 13 April 2017
Opening: 9 March, 19:30 h
Tree snake green, Indian yellow, fiery red, and ultramarine – the new works of Jasmin Schmidt captivate the viewer with their intense palette. When you step in front of one of her large-format works, you dive into a world that is composed of numerous nuances of color. The paintings are structured by patterns. Like intricate street patterns on a map, they traverse the image surface in multiple layers. By superimposing these patterns, shifting them in opposite directions, they create an extremely unconventional spatial structure, whose depth and dimensions are difficult to discern. Similar to Barnett Newman’s color field paintings, they encourage the viewer to lose himself in the expanse of the image. However, in contrast to Newman’s paintings composed entirely of color fields, in Schmidt’s work, since our brain is predisposed to finding patterns, we begin to mentally align the structures and search for associations. Why is this honeycomb pattern so familiar to us? And where have we seen these distorted diamond shapes before?
The point of departure for the “cover” group was a book series for young adults from the 1970s, which had a cover design that stood out due to its unusual structure. The artist picked up on the formal elements and colors and freely interpreted them – this resulted in images that catch your eye with their unconventional blend of intense dynamism and geometric harmony, but are also reminiscent of other objects, such as the layout of a board game. Honeycombs, diamond shapes, shapes arranged in a star pattern – these are forms that have been familiar to us viewers since our early childhood. Even Friedrich Schiller dealt with the importance of play and games for mankind.1 Also, the cultural anthropologist Johan Huizinga proposed that human capabilities only unfold and cultural creations such as art can only result from the joy of purely doing something for its own sake, from undertaking an action that is in itself rewarding and doesn’t serve the needs of anyone else.2 So Jasmin Schmidt’s work may also be read as a homage to the creative potential of mankind.
This allusion is also seen in the title, albeit somewhat ambiguously. “The Arena Enigma” creates a metaphor for the creation of these pieces. On the one hand, the artist describes how art is a playground where the images are created “in oscillation between the poles of discovery, the tangible, the associative, and along the paths that are opened up by their various combinations.” On the other hand, the artist’s studio can be viewed as an arena where the continuous endeavor of exploring form is played out. The arena enigma, the intuitive moment of inspiration, can never be solved, neither by the artist herself nor by the viewers – yet when we view these works with playful curiosity, they show us that we are at least on the right path.
Anne Simone Krüger, Art Historian, M.A., Hamburg