Nadine Schemmann at FAZ

“Colors that want to extend” | Review of the exhibition AMPLITUDEN by Nadine Schemmann at Museum Wiesbaden, by Katinka Fischer

“Interventions” is the name of the exhibition series at Museum Wiesbaden, which brings together contemporary artists and the collection. Now it’s Nadine Schemmann’s turn.

“Avant-garde does not necessarily mean the end of tradition. On the contrary. When American painters covered large canvases with gesturally intuitive color compositions in the 1960s, the academic idea of the image seemed to be history to them, but remained a point of reference even in the most radical departure imaginable. At the same time, Abstract Expressionism created its own tradition, which continues to influence subsequent generations of artists to this day. At the Museum Wiesbaden, where art from this era is on display in large numbers, an “intervention” convincingly demonstrates this.

Since May 2020, this exhibition series has brought together contemporary artists with older positions from the museum’s collection at irregular intervals. The current series is entitled “Amplitudes” and presents monumental paintings by Nadine Schemmann. In a museum room on the first floor, you can see finely nuanced clouds of color on a light canvas, which on the one hand appear as light and transparent as watercolors, and on the other hand dark, dense and heavy. The impression that these structures want to expand further and that fraying contours only temporarily define them is not only created by the virtuoso handling of color by the Berlin-based artist, who was born in 1977, but also by the background.

Thick, vertical and horizontal seams, which divide the canvas into segments of different sizes, interrupt the flow of color and not only reinforce the object-like effect of the panel paintings, but also draw the eye to the coarse, rough structure of the material. Instead of priming the light-colored picture support before painting, Schemmann instead runs it through a chlorine bath, thereby setting the monochrome surface in motion and creating an additional spatial effect. The slightly distorted lines of the seams are the result of the physical effort involved in stretching the huge lengths of fabric, which the artist does without the help of an assistant, just as she performs the no less energetic application of paint with her bare hands.

Continuation of a tradition is visible

Meanwhile, one tip of the three-part installation with the always poetic title “Things behind flying fields” is attached to the high ceiling. In terms of technique – ink, chlorine bleach and diluted oil paint on linen – this exhibit is no different from the panel paintings. However, there is no frame and the background is colored in different shades of red. It literally pours down and into the room, while the drapery swallows up the actual form of the red color fields.

In the adjacent rooms hang paintings by Robert Mangold, Brice Marden, Barnett Newman and other pioneers of Abstract Expressionism and the color field painting that emerged from it. Depending on the position of the viewer, these works can be seen together in the same view as Schemmann’s art – a comparison which demonstrates their rich parallels, particularly with regard to the choice of colors. An abstract painting by Eva Hesse from 1961/62 also reveals great proximity.

An even more striking relationship can be seen in a canvas by Sam Francis, with which Schemmann logically shares the space. The work, which was created in 1968 and has spent the past eight years in the depot, measures almost four by five and a half meters and is therefore so large that it could not fit through the museum doors, but had to be stretched on the spot.

The painting concentrates on the edges that frame a huge white picture surface and in this limitation it contrasts Schemmann’s expansive application of paint. However, the passion for color that oscillates between permeability and density is also expressed on this narrow surface. The thoroughly painterly approach connects the young contemporary artist with the old star and makes the continuation of a tradition visible.”

Amplitudes. Museum Wiesbaden, until April 7, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thursdays 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Read the article (in German) here

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