Kristen Schiele, Beyond the Rocks
Freight and Volume, New York, NY
October 27th – December 3rd, 2011
For her first solo exhibition with Freight and Volume, artist Kristen Schiele presented Beyond the Rocks, which opened on October 27th and closed on December 3rd, 2011. The title of this exhibit and body of work comes from a few sources, the first a 1922 silent film by Sam Wood of the same title, another being a particular distillment of liquor sans ice, and lastly, the nomadic, idealistic journey of one who ventures into the unknown and Beyond the Rocks. Upon entering the first room of the gallery, the viewer is confronted by four large paintings including Pale Rider, 2011 offering a centrally located kaleidoscope of sorts, a colorful painted portal to somewhere beyond the spiky mountains looming precariously in the distance. It is in this notion of escapism that we find ourselves transfixed and happily dwelling in the artists painted mirages. Each painting offers a natural element found in landscape; mountains, woods, ocean, and sky. However, the location of each particular environment is unknown as is the time and date. Without referencing a specific culture, time frame or movement in particular, the artist makes a stylized version of life, one that we may or may not be able to actively take part in. Schiele paints what she likes and in doing so makes a foreign land composed of some familiar elements however strange and unworldly.
As shown in both Tidings and Over the Edge, both 2011, she delves into patterning and is able to remove didactic resonance while still paying homage to historical tradition such as quilting. In Tidings, the artist has made and utilized four layers of space, centrally carved into the board. Within the confines of the most distant layer is the female figure, an important element in Schiele's work, appearing relaxed and lying in typical Odalisque form. Although from the artists own 1970’s source material, the silkscreen figure is stripped of its past and has been reinvented, now communicating with a contemporary audience. While painting as a medium carries the burden of its history, Kristen Schiele is attempting to dissect surface, peeling away at the layers of process and convention in order to create her own ritual.
The back and middle rooms featured Schiele’s handmade shadow boxes containing collage drawings and intricately carved Plexiglas layers. In juxtaposing magic with nostalgia the artist has succeeded in removing self-conscious memory and replaced it with a universal, non-nondescript seduction of space, one frame at a time. I'm looking forward to seeing what she has up her sleeve next.
Katy Diamond Hamer is an art writer based in Brooklyn, New York. She is currently contributing to Flash Art International, Sleek, NY Magazine, Whitehot Magazine and others. For more of her writing visit: http://www.eyes-towards-the-dove.com
Photograph by Takis Spyropoulos, 2012
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