‘Model as Painting’ Pieter Schoolwerth


Tot einde juni kon je in de Miguel Abreu Gallery NY gaan kijken naar merkwaardig werk van kunstenaar, schilder, vormgever ‘Pieter Schoolwerth (°1970).
Tik je zijn familienaam in bij onze zoekfunctie dan kom je bij een artikel van 22 juli 2011 waar we ‘Abstractie en representatie’ bespreken bij toenmalig werk van hem in dezelfde gallery.
Zijn nieuwste werk ‘Model as Painting’ stelt al dadelijk de vraag.
Het ‘schilderen’ komt hierbij pas op het einde van het werkproces aan de orde.

In Model as Painting, Pieter Schoolwerth attempts to reverse the above described techno-cultural trend by producing a series of ‘in the last instance’ paintings, in which the stuff of paint itself reappears at the very end only of a complex, multi-media effort to produce a figurative picture. As such, paint here is not immediately used to build up an image from the ground up, if you will, one brush stroke at a time, but rather it arrives only to mark the painting after it has been fully formed and output onto canvas. In other words, one can safely claim that painting without painting has transformed into painting with painting in the last instance – with paint having been liberated from its traditional depictive and expressive functions for the first time, and therefore having become truly equal to itself, that is existing as pure excess, or ornament.
Here again Schoolwerth asserts that photography, drawing, the construction of sculptural reliefs, digital image processing, printing, and, finally, painting, all contribute to propose a contemporary definition of painting.

f2d561b9223e32ab8938b477ae408938De nood aan een nieuwe definitie van ‘painting’ klinkt in mijn oren een beetje als probleem dat geen probleem is maar door de kunstenaar zelf alsdusdanig wordt ervaren of aangehaald.
Bekijk eerst het filmpje om een inzicht te krijgen in zijn werkwijze die ook zonder deze probleemstelling erg boeiend is.

Initially he produces a drawing from photographs he took of a human model casting shadows. After being blown up, the drawing serves as a template for building a multi-layered sculptural relief of the composition with foamcore. In a next step the artist takes a picture of this three dimensional ‘model’ and reworks the photograph with an image processing software that warps the images of the human body back into parts of the shapes of their cast shadows. After printing the resulting image file on canvas, Schoolwerth applies a final layer of gestural marks in oil paint. In the last stage of the process he goes back and formats the composition of the model as a multilayered series of digital files. With a computer-controlled router machine he then cuts these out in wood and reassembles them as a relief sculpture.


Ultimately, this sculpture exists both as a model to produce the paintings and as a sculptural memorial to the completed painterly process. As such, it imitates the technological production of the dematerialized digital space and emphasizes its roots in materialist, analogue referents like products of human labor. As one model often lends itself to producing a series of different paintings, it is comparable to a template or a device into which information is distributed and narrative is developed. Hence, the three-dimensional relief work furthers the idea of a model for a virtual space in painting.


Pieter Schoolwerth’s concerns lie in depicting the figure grounded in the ubiquitous glowing screens of digital technology. In his work, the photographed shadows represent the digital performance of the body. By compressing together the images of the body and those of its shadows he exposes the perception of an overall model of “you”. In this manner the artist examines how the mediated reality influences our sense of time, space, and our capacities for attention and the production of memory.

Ik ben bang dat de theorie hierbij ietsje te veel het ‘knutsel-element’ probeert te verdoezelen, een element dat best bij heel wat hedendaagse artiesten ook dient om het armzalige (of het tekort) aan diepte en kunde te verdoezelen.
Dat hij zelf met zijn werk daaraan ontsnapt ligt eerder aan de zelfstandigheid waarmee het werk zowel als ‘model’ dan als ‘afdruk’ kan genoten worden.


For over 20 years, painter and filmmaker Pieter Schoolwerth’s work has addressed the ways in which the ever-changing and often invisible forces of abstraction in the world, which can be associated with the digitization of more and more aspects of experience, affect the task of representing the human body. Schoolwerth has developed an expanded painting practice incorporating photography, image processing, inkjet printing and relief sculpture that can be said to echo the compression of space and time paradigmatic of communication today, in an effort to depict the human figure in virtual space – a world “once removed” from itself, in which the body is present through being absent. The talk will be followed by a conversation with artist and SVA Art History faculty member Lorne Blythe (MFA 2010 Photography, Video and Related Media). Presented by BFA Visual & Critical Studies.

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