Current: Intermezzo, November 27 - December 17, Kunstverein Xanten
Why should one paint something if one can also photograph it? Why paint a photograph?
Such are the questions that immediately come to mind whenever one stands in front of Thomas Schiela’s paintings. Executed in watercolour on paper or canvas (and sometimes on wood or as a glaze on ceramic), Thomas Schiela’s paintings are replicas of photographs that he has generally taken himself. The richness of detail offered by these large-format and, sometimes, extremely large-format paintings is overwhelming. And one cannot but be astonished by the precision with which such classical handicaps of photography as blurring caused by lack of focus or camera shake are captured on paper or canvas with surprising displays of painterly bravura. It seems hardly imaginable that all these are painted in watercolour – a medium we normally associate with lightness and rapidity of brushwork, a medium in which no subsequent corrections can be made, a medium that seems more suitable for studies and virtuoso finger exercises of a more modest format. Particularly astonishing is the way Schiela succeeds in painting light itself, and in all its manifestations: the natural light of daytime and the artificial light of night-time; the scorching light of the sun over the desert, its garish intensity in the Tropics, its cool grey shimmer over the North Sea; the light of flickering neon signs in American cities and the light of the simple light bulbs that illuminate the fumes from the street kitchens of Morocco; the warm candlelight in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, reflected by the mosaic and marble, gold and silver of its magnificent interior, and the cold beams of multicoloured light in the bar of a casino in Las Vegas. The history of the productive, though not always harmonious, relationship between painting and photography is a long one. It actually began during the Renaissance with the camera obscura and ultimately led, at the beginning of the 20th century, to the categorical eschewal of the representation of visible reality. Picasso expressed this particularly succinctly: “When one sees what you express through photography, one realizes everything that can no longer be the concern of painting. Why would the artist stubbornly persist in rendering what the lens can capture so well? […] Photography came along at a particular moment to liberate painting from literature of all sorts, from the anecdote, and even from the subject.”1 (……)
The entire text of Roland Mönig found in catalog CORSO.