8.6 – 3.7 2021
Iris Schomaker:in secret kept/ in silence sealed
08.06 – 03.07.2021
Huxley-Parlour Gallery is pleased to present a solo presentation of 16 new works on paper by Berlin based artist, Iris Schomaker, in June 2021. The exhibition is Schomaker’s first UK solo show.
Taken from a line in a Charlotte Brontë poem, Evening Solace, the title of the exhibition in secret kept/ in silence sealed reflects on interiority, solitude, and reworks the romantic understanding of ‘emotion, recollected in tranquility’. Rendered in flat, monochromatic planes, Schomaker’s characters are often pictured solitary, sometimes with an accompanying animal, and frequently at large scale.
Schomaker’s figures – inscrutable and monolithic – are psychologically charged, drawing from Jungian archetypes to create atmospheric portraits that invite viewers to engage with introspective, ‘androgyn’ figures. Influenced by Japanese woodblock prints and ink drawings, Schomaker’s works are built up with both charcoal and watercolour and finished with oil paint to create deep, gothic tableaux that Schomaker describes as like ‘film stills’.
Brontë’s poetry takes imaginative departure from a post-Cartesian conception of self. Here, the Romantic ‘recluse’ has an impenetrable exterior, harbouring secret feelings, desires, hopes and fears. Schomaker’s exhibition meaningfully reworks this conception by presenting her figures as radically vacant.
While the surfaces of Schomaker’s work – angular, coarse, geometric – are symbolically charged, the characters of her paintings refuse to confer meaning. This is particularly evident in Schomaker’s faces, which remain obscured in each of the works. In turn, this collection of paintings – developed over a number of months – allow us to materially consider our contemporary sense of ‘self’.
Iris Schomaker’s unique brand of figuration is heavily bound to abstraction in its use of bold, graphic forms and composite anthropomorphism. Her radical figurative-abstraction makes 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.
Schomaker was born in Stade, Germany in 1973. She studied at the Muthesius University of Fine Arts and Design, Kiel, continuing her studies at the Academy of Fine Arts in Bergen and Trondheim. Schomaker has participated in several national exhibitions, including at the Berlinische Galerie, Berlin in 2007 and 2010, and at Frankfurter Kunstverein, Frankfurt 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, Germany and Deutsche Bank collections.
She lives and works in Berlin.