Conceptions of unfamiliar and foreign cities are usually built on assumptions. Movies, and the use of recurring images in film and advertisement, create a collective understanding, or a consensus of how a city seems to be. Moreover, films propagate images and therefore can establish forms of urban representation. The invariable use of footage in movies strengthens these geographical and cultural images and mediates a mutual understanding. In fact, scenes in the city are always reflections of the city, one’s illusions in conflict with reality.
Jan-Ole Schiemann asks: "Can you show me the way to Paradise Road?" - The artist's photographed portrait extends at the entrance to the gallery. The photo was taken during a walk to the Griffith Observatory (a landmark of the city and a popular shooting location of film productions), during an extended stay in Los Angeles. James Dean's head, like a trophy placed on a pedestal in the park, reminds one of the film classic Rebel Without a Cause (1955), while the Hollywood sign looms in the distance like a hovering threat.
As in his paintings, this photograph recalls the idea of a film still. A glitch is running through the psychedelic-colored picture, as if it was recorded with a camcorder and then stored on a VHS tape.
There are different ways in which a city can be experienced. Nowadays, mobility has manifold forms: public transport above and below the ground, the proximate Uber driver, cars, buses, bicycles and strayed Segways, which speed with the conservative feeling of a new future. We are more flexible than ever and as consequence our perception is constantly changing. City explorations usually begin with a walk through the streets. By foot, at a slow paste you begin to match the images in your head with reality, while your feet, just like an over-sized nose of a curious dog, sweep for different routes.
But Los Angeles resists this romantic strategy and holds the dog in the car.
1667 N MAIN STR, 106 HEWITT and 1107 GREENACRE are three addresses that are defining Schiemann’s everyday life in Los Angeles.
In his latest body of work, he confronts the impressions of these new surroundings – the distances he covers, and the unfolding of his own perception in time and place. How many preconceptions fall and which impressions stick out? In his practice, he focuses on the aesthetics of cartoon animation films, looking for interesting landscapes and strange scenes. By adapting the environment of the film, he assembles a stage for his drawings – resolving, with every added layer the trace of their original context. For “Can you show me the way to Paradise Road,” the actual street became both the understructure and the playground of his painting.
The perspective becomes essential, in a time where the horizontal view seems superseded. On Valentine's Day 1990, NASA's orbiter, Voyager 1, captures a picture of our planet from about 6 billion kilometers’ distance. Fondly referred to as Pale Blue Dot, this photograph challenges the perception of the position of our world and gradually manifests the view from above. We are wandering around in the world, continually standing on a mountain top, on the periphery of a city, guided by height. Smartphones and Google Maps, released in 2005 by Google Inc., guide us. The Earth Surface has been reduced to road maps and grids, illustrated with gray lakes, yellow lines and abstracted scattered green surfaces. The user moves and zooms through the abstractions, deeper into the Metropolis. However, this pile of data does not prove anything of a real cityscape; we are naturally using this virtual copy for orientation.
In his new works, Schiemann does not utilize the formal structures of online mapping or urban planning. You will not find a geometric, clearly structured grid, but an entirely new form of a city map. He is laying out a subjective perception of his environment, including odors, tempos, noises and interpersonal relationships, which he translates into surreal forms. Condensations and loops, which spread horizontally and vertically throughout the canvas, interweave into complex structures. These constellations are interrupted by inserts and overlays, appearing as subtitles or functioning as a magnifying glass.
Jan-Ole Schiemann’s multidimensional picture planes do not allow for an inattentive gaze; only an active viewer can explore the multitudes of the layers he is creating.
Finding the way to Paradise Road in Los Angeles is not easy, if not impossible.
It seems paradoxical, but the dream factory does not present the desired destination. Google Maps leads us to different coordinates.
Paradise Road, however, can also be understood, as the wish for an image of the real city, as assumption. I would like to take him there and answer: "Turn left in fifty yards."