270108: Falckenberg Collection: Tomas Schmit - Can people think?

Falckenberg Collection: Tomas Schmit – Can people think? Of mice and chameleons One example of Tomas Schmit’s witty expressions, which are usually combined with his paintings, is “’at the back’ is placed at the beginning of this sentence”. At first sight his clever remarks may simply seem amusing, however, oftentimes they turn out to be intellectual explosives. Nam June Paik once announced that he would have loved to trade his oeuvre with Schmit’s thousands of illustrations. He was only 20 years old when he joined the Fluxus movement, later he was George Maciunas assistant and soon after that presented his own work - the “cycle for water buckets” (or bottles). Schmit filled the water from the buckets into the bottles, which were arranged in a circle, until no water was left. But Schmit soon abandoned this kind of absurd theatricality and devoted his time to illustrations. His inclination towards reduced forms stemmed from the Fluxus movement. These reductions manifested themselves in his delicate, childlike-anarchistic humour as well as his seemingly sketchy paintings. But their content was often times much more complex if not even cryptic and had more to do with horror vacui or laconic text-pictures. With a kind of feigned naiveté Schmit deals with philosophic and scientific questions, but hardly ever demanding a serious answer. In the catalogue, Stefan Ripplinger describes this cheerful dialogue as “art and science cheering to one another, and sometimes not even condemning dirty jokes”. Schmit arrived at his individual, aphoristic articulation by way of his illustrations. These disarmingly cheerful works have titles such as “always these ups and downs, thought the carrot” (1975) or “this is how salmonellas imagine a virus” (1995). In his unconventional picture puzzles for the series “Utopia” (1975) Schmit created numerous paradox diagrams, all meant to say something about “giving”, taking” (diagonal shadings) and “being happy” (empty space), the result is a colourful checked pattern: absolutely stunning. Another series is the “square of the circle” (1972) dedicated to being a senseless artistic problem. An especially enchanting experiment is a chameleon contrived as the embodiment of a dialectic ratio towards the environment, and shown by Schmit in the most abstruse constellations. All this ingenuity contains fantastic puns, questioning the system of language and at the same time being solemnly sceptical – thereby opening an ample scope of thinking, which emerges between the pure creative potential and the contingence. This is also the distant attitude Schmit has towards his own profession. “If someone wants to find out more about art, he can throw away complete libraries, as long as he has read Kafka’s “Josefine, die Sängerin oder das Volk der Mäuse”. Sammlung Falckenberg 21073 Hamburg, Wilstorfer Strasse 71, until 31. 01. 08

Sammlung Falckenberg
21073 Hamburg, Wilstorfer Straße 71
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