November 2010, Karl-Heinz Schwind @ Galerie Petra Vankova

Karl-Heinz Schwind, Love, 2009
Oil on canvas, 110x90cm
Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Petra Vankova



Karl-Heinz Schwind
Galerie Petra Vankova
Schönleinstraße 32
10967 Berlin, Germany
September 9 through November 27, 2010

Karl-Heinz Schwind, who spent many years studying with Georg Baselitz in Karlsruhe and who recently moved to Berlin, is showing some of his recent work in his adapted city at Galerie Petra Vankova. The exhibition consists of paintings, drawings, and sculptural works.

Schwind’s work appears, at first glance, to be purely emotive. It is easy, perhaps too easy, to draw a parallel with what Schwind is doing and the tradition of Art Brut. The problem with this category, of course, is that it is wholly contingent on biographical data which, in the case of Schwind, is largely absent. We do not know if Schwind practices art as therapy, if he is mad, and if so, whether his madness has any real connection to his chosen forms of expression. But as with Jean Dubuffet and other proponents of Art Brut, Schwind valorizes a rough immediacy that works towards dissolving the supposed boundaries between art and lived experience.

Schwind applies paints to his canvases directly from the tube, swirling it around with brush or palette knife into angry, emotive lines that takes him beyond the rational world into a state of frenzy. Occasionally, a simple word will appear across the canvas, endowing the painting with a name; it always implies a sort of primordial longing: Sex. Love. Breakfast. Those things that certain of us are privileged to take for granted each day. For others, their very absence can make it impossible to get out of bed in the morning.

While some of the resulting paintings and drawings might seem, at first glance, like the uncontrolled scribbles of a temperamental child, several paintings in Schwind’s Abstrakt series are reminiscent of that Austrian master of the line, Otto Zitko (who, coincidentally, is also showing in Berlin at Galerie Krobath through November 13th.) Perhaps the most compelling paintings in the show are the most reductive – one vertical canvas presents a sprawl of red, yellow, black, and blue lines against a white background, while another reduces them to strictly red and black.

Rather than feeling supplementary, the inclusion of the sculptural works seems almost like an extension of the drawings and paintings. While just as messy as the paintings, in their apparent randomness, they also seem like quiet meditations on the act of painting. They are found, seemingly random arrangements of small objects piled on top of or next to each other. One, for instance, consists of half a log, a multi-colored scarf, a black high heel shoe, and a kitschy purple costume sailor hat piled on top of one another, and all splattered with white paint.

The totemic vertices in the sculptures seem to imply a striving for the figure, a willed emergence, which surfaces occasionally in the paintings but more often in the drawings in the form of faces that appear almost by accident, it seems. The artist has smartly installed the drawings directly above the sculptures on the floor, and this corner is arguably the most fascinating part of the show, for it forces the viewer to formulate connections between the two- and three-dimensional works.


Karl-Heinz Schwind, Galerie Petra Vankova instalation view, 2010


Karl-Heinz Schwind, Galerie Petra Vankova instalation view, 2010

Travis Jeppesen

Travis Jeppesen's novels include The Suiciders, Wolf at the Door, and Victims. He is the recipient of a 2013 Arts Writers grant from Creative Capital/the Warhol Foundation. In 2014, his object-oriented writing was featured in the 2014 Whitney Biennial and in a solo exhibition at Wilkinson Gallery in London. A collection of novellas, All Fall, is forthcoming from Publication Studio. 

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