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Paintings Have Feelings Too
February 15 – March 13, 2020

Nino Mier Gallery is pleased to present a solo exhibition of new paintings by Cologne-based artist Jan-Ole Schiemann, titled Paintings Have Feelings Too. This will be the artist’s third solo exhibition with the gallery.

Based on a playful and yet complex structure of superimposed images, Jan-Ole Schiemann’s paintings use a collage-like technique of black ink applied to unprimed canvas and acrylic paint to invent highly concentrated surreal compositions. Oscillating between figurative forms and abstract elements drawn from comics, cartoons and neo-surreal traditions in animation film, the contoured entities and shapes intertwine constantly into painted hybrids. The determination of a clear, spatial arrangement is blurred. Inside, in front of, and beneath the pictorial space, everything seems possible. Every world accessible. Every form able to transcend the spheres and panels it’s assigned to, just to progress into an ever-changing density paired with crude brushstrokes and opaque, paste-like spots.

Referencing his approach of varying techniques and an own visual vocabulary established within several former series, Schiemann’s new paintings break up with the conception of a homogenous, planned and preconstructed formality and transfer the invention of a visual language into the immediacy of the actual painting process itself. For this, Schiemann uses the different canvas formats as a visual playground, which enables him to analyze, dissect and reverse his own visual resources of employed black and white forms—colorful biomorphic fragments and ink stains softly merging into each other, or transparent panels and subtle zooms.

Formerly utilized to set-up his complex compositions within several drawings and sketches, the new works also relocate the process of drawing as a constitutive medium into the paintings. Taking up this visual quest of mixing and sampling his own media, a group of large-scale paintings mirror this multilayered process of finding new forms. Echoing simultaneously Arshile Gorky’s transgressive post-Cubist formations or Carroll Dunham’s fluid, yet witty and surreal figurations of soft shapes, the now hand-drawn lines with charcoal, ink or pencil add an almost physical and free dynamism.

Contrasting this process related to automatic writing (écriture automatique), which likewise inspired the French Surrealists and Abstract Expressionists in the United States since the 1940s, Schiemann at the same time exposes the construction methods of his paintings. The contours marking the pictorial space as well as his figurative shapes dissolve illusionistically in the gradations and washed-out colors of primary traces of shadows and light. Similarly, solid features melt into translucent forms and function as backgrounds for shapes and letters applied through self-made templates resulting into condensed, almost encrypted or locked abstract forms. Equipped with this expressive interplay between form and template, Schiemann’s paintings emphasize their own statics even more through the addition of a now independent net of layered signs connecting his works like a vibrating rhythm.

Linking the larger formats paintings with a series of fourteen smaller canvases, Schiemann‘s imagery literally transforms into a free interplay of signifying codes by intertwining the introduced letters and writing with his visual language. Closely installed in a sequence encompassing one room of the gallery, the letters – recalling the word “sequential circuits” at one point – constantly withdraw from our curious gaze.

Uncertain about the statement Schiemann confronts us with, singular letters step forward and disappear – only to trigger associations and deeper thoughts about their meaning. Maybe they synthesize new verbal entities out of a formerly dissected vocabulary of forms? Like organic characters at times visible in his formal compositions, they step forward and reveal themselves for just a moment to the extent that they become recoded again as painted forms within the freeness of Schiemann’s abstract investigations.

Text by Philipp Fernandes do Brito