German-born artist Iris Schomaker (born 1973) creates paintings which tread the line between abstraction and figuration. Her pseudo-silhouetted, monochrome forms are often found caught in private moments of introspection, and are now held in several important public collections.
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Born in Stade, Germany in 1973, Iris Schomaker studied at the Muthesius University of Fine Arts and Design, Kiel, before moving to Norway to continue her studies at the Academy of Fine Arts in both Bergen and Trondheim. Following training in Germany and Norway, Schomaker secured a grant from the Künstlerhaus Lauenburg, and exhibited work across Europe in Germany, Denmark, Italy and Poland. For the past twenty years, Schomaker has been developing her unique brand of figuration: one which is heavily bound to abstraction in its use of bold, graphic forms and composite anthropomorphism.
Of her time at art school during the late 1990s, Schomaker has spoken of the influence of Peter Doig – ‘the first one who suddenly did figurative art’ – who had held his first major solo exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery in 1991 and was subsequently nominated for the Turner Prize in 1994. Schomaker traces an analogous line with Doig’s radical figurative-abstraction, similarly making use of collected samples of visual culture: a studio filled with photographs, newspaper cuttings and ephemera help her to centre her figures in reality. Nonetheless, the spaces which her forms inhabit, as well as the faceless figures themselves, are arranged into abstracted, graphic compositions which Schomaker admits lean heavily into abstraction. The influence of Chinese and Japanese ink drawing and wood prints, as well as European artists such as Henri Matisse, is keenly felt in the artist’s interwoven presentation of line and form.
Schomaker’s works frequently feature still figures reclining or relaxing, often accompanied by an animal. The artist describes the scenes as ‘private moments’; assimilated through an exacting process of reduction, Schomaker’s sparing use of colour matches her desire to present these figures in their most simplified form. She begins by making a series of drawings, translating the most successful into large-format works in charcoal, before proceeding to work in mixed-media. As a result, Schomaker’s works present a surface testifying to her diverse working methods, revealing pencil marks, and strong, graphic outlines.
Exhibitions and Collections
Schomaker has participated in several national exhibitions, including at the Berlinische Galerie in 2007 and 2010, and at Frankfurter Kunstverein in 2013. The following year she participated at the Mediations Biennale in Poznan, Poland. Schomaker’s work is now held in numerous public and private collections, including the Kunsthalle Recklinghausen and Deutsche Bank collections. She lives and works in Berlin.