During Gallery Weekend Berlin Galerie Nordenhake presents its fifth solo exhibition of photographer Michael Schmidt (1945-2014). Schmidt’s works are characterised by the persistent quest of finding a new approach to reality by means of photography.
Since the mid 1990s his oeuvre includes works that the artist created by using images from his working archive. The process of re-contextualising his individual shots forms an integral part of Schmidt’s artistic practice. The interval between the shooting of the pictures and the revision enables a different perspective on the original subject. The artist also aims to reactivate the aesthetic potential of the archived material by employing different artistic criteria and creating new compilations of the works. This editorial process of not merely selecting but also re-arranging the photographs ultimately leads to a novel interpretation.
This process is employed in NATUR, a project that Schmidt completed shortly before his death in 2014. The exhibition of the delicate small-scale prints from negatives dating back to 1987-97 is preceded by the creation of a photo book, a practice at the core of Schmidt’s work. The choice of the title indicates that the artist goes beyond the mere depiction of a specific landscape and articulates an idea of nature in a distinctive pictorial language. Schmidt’s black and white images contain a wealth of silver tones and rich greys imbuing the images with an almost physical sense of gravity or lightness. The selection of the subjects, the employment of focus and blur and above all the implementation of light convey an existential understanding of nature and its significance for us.
Michael Schmidt was born in 1945 in Berlin, where he died in 2014. He is regarded as one of the seminal German post-war photographers. His works can be found in national and international collections and have been presented in numerous solo and group exhibitions. A major retrospective of Michael Schmidt's work curated by Thomas Weski is planned for 2020 and will be shown in one of the museums of the Nationalgalerie Berlin.
In 1976, Michael Schmidt founded the Werkstatt für Fotografie at VHS Berlin-Kreuzberg, which became a major forum for international discussions on photography in (West) Berlin. In 1987 he exhibited WAFFENRUHE (CEASEFIRE) at Berlinische Galerie. In 1988 the Museum of Modern Art, New York presented the work in the exhibition „New Photography 4“. In 1996 EIN-HEIT was shown for the first time at MoMA, New York under its English title U-NI-TY. This was the first solo-exhibition of a German photographer at MoMA since decades. In the same year, EIN-HEIT was presented for the first time in Germany at Sprengel Museum Hanover. In 1995 a first survey exhibition of his work was on view at Museum Folkwang Essen, after the museum had shown exhibitions of Schmidt in 1981 and 1988. In 2010 Michael Schmidt presented his comprehensive survey exhibition “Grey as Colour. Photographs since 2009” at Haus der Kunst, Munich.
Michael Schmidt participated in the 55th Venice Biennial in 2013, and the Berlin Biennial in 2006 and 2010. LEBENSMITTEL (FOOD) was presented in solo exhibitions at Museum Morsbroich, Leverkusen (2012), Galerie im Taxispalais, Innsbruck (2013) and at Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin (2013). In 2014 the artist was awarded with the prestigious Prix Pictet for his work LEBENSMITTEL. The Prix Pictet exhibition ”Consumption" was on view at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and then travelled extensively in both Europe and internationally.
The Foundation for Photography and Media Art with the Michael Schmidt Archive was founded in 1999, and since the artist’s death is organising and preserving the artist’s archive.
OPENING: APRIL 29, 6-9 pm
Opening hours during Gallery Weekend: April 30th & May 1st 11-19 h
Following his well-received retrospective at Hong Kong Arts Centre in 2014, Pékin Fine Arts is proud to present Wesley Tongson’s first solo show in Beijing showcasing artworks created between 1992 and 2012.
Born in Hong Kong in 1957, Wesley Tongson spent his childhood and early teenage years in Hong Kong from the 1950’s to 1970’s, a period coinciding with the New Ink Movement initiated primarily by Lui Shou-Kwan (1919 - 1975) and his followers. Deeply influenced by traditional Chinese literati painting, Tongson began to paint formally at the age of 17. He sought inspiration first from traditional Chinese paintings and gradually established his own style through studying the essence of Western and Chinese art. He was heavily influenced by Zhang Daqian (1899 – 1983) and Picasso (1881 - 1973). He continued his study of Chinese traditional painting in Toronto, Canada, exhibiting his work in museums and galleries in the USA and Canada, and later moved back to Hong Kong in the early 1980’s where he remained working as an independent artist until his death in 2012. His lifelong exploration in art epitomizes the development of ink art of Hong Kong from a diasporic perspective.
Tongson struggled with schizophrenia since his teenage years. Painting was undoubtedly his sole emotional outlet and a source of true happiness. The philosophy of Zen was a constant source of inspiration for him. The artist once stated in his middle age that, “All these years, I have never stopped creating, working every day and dedicating myself to the arts and the study of Zen philosophy.”
The act of painting became a vehicle for a metaphorical travel, using the depiction of a familiar mountain scene (spiritual mountains/ lingshan 靈山) and a small dwelling to express his thoughts and emotions. One could interpret his landscape paintings as a series of mindscapes that situate the audience in between realism and abstraction. In his splash ink paintings, the artist would demonstrate his mastery with techniques such as ink rubbing (拓印) and marbling(水拓石紋) to create a rich texture that references the texture strokes/ cun (皴) of traditional Chinese rock and landscape painting. Since 2001, Tongson began to experiment with finger painting. By 2009, the artist eventually got rid of the brushes, working primarily with his fingers, fingernails and fists to produce a series of monochromatic paintings that celebrate creative freedom.
This solo exhibition showcases a selection of Wesley Tongson’s works that reflect the artist’s aesthetic evolution across two decades. The show is divided into two sections. In the first section, a wide variety of works that illustrate Tongson’s bold and relentless artistic experiments in terms of materials and subject matter spanning from the 1990’s to 2005 will be on display. The selection of artworks encompasses splash ink paintings, calligraphy, bamboo paintings which make reference to traditional Chinese literati painting and an intriguing style of landscape painting which renders a bodily form, epitomizing the artist’s bold vision.
The second section is dedicated to the monochromatic finger paintings of varying subject matters from plum, pine tree and recurring landscape. The emergence of the finger paintings took place approximately in the last decade of the artist’s all-too-brief life. This new direction was a significant breakthrough, as he eventually abandoned the use of ink brush. By directly interacting with the materials using different parts of his hands and executing the paintings on a large table at a ferocious pace, the artworks express immediacy while steeped with a deep sense of solitude and control. The interplay between void and substance as well as the palpable energy shown in the paintings further reflect the spiritual dimension of Tongson’s artistic temperament.
Wesley Tongson Biography:
After moving to Canada in 1977, Wesley Tongson studied Western painting at Ontario College of Art, Toronto as well as Chinese brush painting with the renowned Madame Koo Tsin-yaw (Gu Qingyao 顧青瑤, 1896-1978). He also began to explore and teach himself splash-ink painting. He returned to Hong Kong in 1981 and continued to study painting with Harold Wong (Huang Zhongfang 黃仲方, 1943 - ), the distinguished collector, connoisseur and painter as well as Liu Guosong (劉國松, 1932 - ), widely known as the Father of Modern Ink. His works are in various public and private collections in Hong Kong including Hong Kong Museum of Art, Hong Kong Art School, Morgan Stanley Asia Limited and different parts of the world such as Australia, Canada, Japan, Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, United Kingdom and United States.
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