REFINEMENT: The Art of Koo Schadler
Koo Schadler’s works marry epochs of time: then to now, art history to contemporary visages. Working in the age old traditions of egg tempera and silverpoint drawing, often referencing Renaissance motifs, Schadler’s imagery lures us with its elegance, then plays with our conception of time. Are we looking at a portrait of a child by an Italian Renaissance Master? Then why is that little boy wearing a red T-shirt and newsboy cap?
Schadler further alters our art historical experience by using egg tempera in ways not usually associated with the medium, incorporating more varied gradations of color, tone, light and shadow. The fruit and flora of her still-lifes have the delicacy of line egg tempera affords, but also the robust flesh and sensual volumes revealed by subtly shaded light. She achieves this sensuality by re-inventing egg tempera’s historical methods, abandoning the earlier masters’ logical systems of application in favor of a freer approach more suited to her aesthetic temperament. Though her application can be complex from start to finish, and the need to control this delicate medium is ever present, Schadler’s aesthetic allows for considerable
improvisation of technique. This freedom reveals itself as an energy which informs even the quietest of her works—the
still-lifes and landscape backgrounds reminiscent of the Italian Renaissance—and engages us with the portraits.
So, too, with Schadler’s silverpoint drawings. Like egg tempera, silverpoint is also an ancient technique, but in Schadler’s hands, the tradition takes on modern sensibility. Always a daring medium—with silvered lines which can’t be erased in their ground of gesso—there is no room for error in silverpoint drawing. For an artist, silverpoint is a high-wire act, precipitously balanced between skill and imagination. Schadler thrives in this balance. Her imagery seems to shimmer, on the page and through time. The portraits, whether looking straight at us or in Renaissance inspired profile, appear to exist behind a
delicate, unseen scrim which acts as the connective tissue between time past and time now.
Together, Koo Schadler’s tempera and silverpoint works, project a refinement of hand and image, and an exquisite
relationship with of time
Schadler’s achievements are widely recognized. She is a Master painter of The Copley Society in Boston, a contributing
editor at The Artist’s Magazine, and a board member of the Society of Tempera Painters. Her work is in numerous private and public collections and in museums across the United States.
- Ann Aptaker