David Schnell, born in 1971, lives and works in Leipzig and is one of the
upcoming painters of the ‘Neue Leipziger Schule’. When the East and West
of Germany were reunited, this group of painters emerged from the Academy
Of Visual Arts of Leipzig to establish themselves on the German art scene.
Some of the artists representing the Neue Leipziger Schule are Neo Rauch,
Matthias Weischer, Tim Eitel, David Schnell and Martin Kobe. And although
their subjects are very different from each other, all of these painters produce
figurative works with solid composition.
Although most of Schnell’s paintings depicts figurative outdoors landscapes, the brushstrokes and shapes are exectued in an almost digital way. This made me feel as if the landscapes were not real and might even be indoors, like on a film set.
The realms created by Schnell are attractive and inviting. Once your eyes start to wander around the painting, the viewer find himself off balance, as if placed on a tipping point searching for a clear horizon to focus on. To me it seems as if the painter had this same disorientation while working his canvas, and he came up with some very solid forms to convey this dizzying feeling.
However, what struck me most when looking at the work of Schnell is the way
he paints. It is done with seemingly easy strokes combined with geometrical
forms and compositions. These two techniques are combined in a self-evident
way but on close inspection you will find that the combination of these forms
did not always work out. The paintings are full of little visual solutions to clarify
the relationships between forms.
The piece of art which for me stood out this exhibition was ‘Schein’ (Shine),
a painting made in 2008. This work is part of a series of paintings in which
most of the geometrical forms are gone although the composition still refers to
a similar build-up. Schein appears on first look as a peaceful landscape with a
little stream, but the viewer is quickly startled by a flock of butterflies all flying
in his direction. The quite impressionistic approach blurs the image but on the
other hand shapes it. It is as if your reaching for understanding the image and
you feel you’re nearly touching it, nearly…
This duality intrigues me a lot and is one of the trademarks throughout the
exhibition. Gem surprised me once more with this inspiring artist and although
the exhibition is now over as I’m writing this, one should really find time for
this gallery when visiting The Hague.
Pim Arends, November 2010
Visit Pim Arends‘ page on Ponyhof Gallery website.