Artist: Markus Schinwald
Venue: Wattis, San Francisco
Date: September 9 – December 13, 2014
Full gallery of images, press release and link available after the jump.
Images courtesy of Wattis Institute, San Francisco. Photos by Johnna Arnold.
The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) in partnership with the CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts will present Markus Schinwald, on view at the Wattis Institute from September 9 through December 13, 2014. This exhibition by Austrian artist Markus Schinwald (b. 1973) marks his first major commission for a U.S. institution. The site-responsive installation will include an architectural intervention that changes the physical and psychological potential of the gallery, providing a display apparatus for Schinwald’s paintings and sculptures. Part of SFMOMA’s On the Go program, the exhibition continues the museum’s long-standing New Work series, which features work by innovative contemporary artists. For the Wattis, this project inaugurates a new exhibition program developed by its recently appointed director, Anthony Huberman.
Schinwald’s work focuses on the body and the way that it manifests physical and psychological constraints. Using a range of media—painting, sculpture, photography, video, performance, and installation—he creates fragmented narratives in which objects, images, and spaces have newly amplified aspects or forms. Bodies, in particular, are manipulated, transformed, covered, and obscured in ways that impart a sense of unease. An important concept for Schinwald is the prosthesis. This idea of a correction, a joining of two disparate parts to create something new, connects to the way that the artist approaches his paintings, sculptures, and architectural interventions.
His studies of movement and gesture often extend to the viewers in his installations. Intentionally added alterations, such as physical barriers and walls that a viewer must walk or peer through, function like a necessary extension of the space. At the Venice Biennale in 2011, Schinwald turned the Austrian pavilion into a maze-like environment in which visitors were forced to navigate walls that hung from the ceiling and ended at waist height. Visitors’ legs, cut off and exposed, were occasionally glimpsed among views of paintings and sculptures at varying heights.
Schinwald begins his paintings by purchasing 19th-century canvases at auction. He then introduces new elements such as braces, jewelry, chains, or head coverings, based on a careful study of the figure and the surface. These painted additions, often executed with the help of a conservator, blend with the original image, as if they were always part of the image or form. The introduced constraints at times act like theatrical props, imbuing the figures with a new persona. A similar shift occurs in Schinwald’s retooling of Chippendale-style table legs. Instilled with a heightened sense of agency, his sculptures appear to bend and stretch, crawl up walls, or wrap around bronze poles.