13 windows with a view on the wilderness. Recent works by Luxembourgish painter Arny Schmit depict his vision of a daunting and nurturing nature and its relationship with the female body. A body that Schmit likes to fragment by imprisoning it into frames of analysis, each frame a clue into a mysterious narrative, a suggestion, an impression. His northern forests become the haunted realms of women from the middle ages to the renaissance who lure blond, black haired and brunette beauties into their bountiful womb. For Nature feeds on Nature, in an endless cycle of Life.
Through his first solo show with Kloser Contemporary Art, Schmit invites the viewer to time travel the wider history of art, freely feeding on Flemish renaissance portraiture (Le Jardin de R.) or the Lynchian landscapes made famous in the 1980s. His red thread is Nature, one he invites us to dissect and love through two Seelenlandschaften (Landscapes of the Soul), Into the Light I & II. Nature empowers the artist to further dissect the female subject made defenseless through his process of fragmentation. The latter undoubtedly placing the stories within the oneiric world of fiction.
For me, Arny Schmit’s signature lies within the dialogue through the frames and across his paintings. By creating multiple narratives inside a single work, the artist creates counterpoint, new meaning and interrogates. What are we seeing? What does a decaying forest clearing tell us about the girl in the red dress? (White Dots) A shot within a shot is a familiar figure in the grammar of cinema, but it is probably Schmit’s mad passion for comic books (he collected over 5’000 from all over the world) that most nourished his artistic language, for his body of work has now mutated from a period where text was used to sublime image into this new phase, where silence and suggestion are now dominant. A silence that seems to give space to imaginary music and sounds.
Wild is in reference to the overwhelming presence of Nature in each of the 13 paintings in this show, but also suggests a wilderness within the human kind. At first motherly and inviting, Nature’s wilderness soon seems to reach an encroaching overprotectiveness that wounds its children, like yet another warning that too much of anything is never a good thing. The series of paintings then becomes a presage of our need to protect Nature and by doing so, to protect ourselves. This is perhaps my very personal reading of the environmental emotion in these works, but we are after all at Nature’s mercy.
I come back to the impressionist qualities of these recent works by Arny Schmit who translates Nature’s emotions (and his own) through elaborate fields of undefined color that give birth to highly texturized organic brush and spatula strokes making up these forests, fields, valleys, rivers and lakes. Like Renoir and other impressionists, Schmit focuses his artistic study on women, capturing them in every angle, always beautiful, always fragile. This is the visible.
Perhaps then, the invisible is the fate of these women that Nature claims, for the stains of blood (The Bride) and drippings of red (The Shore), these fading pants (The Vanishing) and fuming craters (Under the Volcano) all point to the uncontrollable nature of their desire. Human passions render us unaware of the dangers around us, as illustrated by this Ophelia-like character floating in the brownish waters of Torn. Taking this further, I can only witness the constant rape of our Nature and our denial of it, as we slowly drift towards a more dangerous future. What then of our children? A point that finds echoes in Schmit’s last work in the show: The Swing.
Klaus Pas, December 2018