I headed over to Brooklyn to check out what Ryan Schneider had cooking after not seeing his work for a year. He was painting when I got there; mixing a fleshly color on the big glass palette in the center of the room. Canvases lined the walls, some were finished and some were in progress. He paints all the nouns: people, places and things; and does so in a thoughtful way that reflects life. Still lifes which range from bathtubs to bookshelves, and landscapes which seem to suggest an alternate, more romantic reality.
The paintings are populated with figures, and he had interesting things to say about figure painting. In person, the paintings are very obviously physical. They combine juicy paint, carved-in-words, bold colors, and a funky sense of space. This makes for paintings which flip between pattern and illusion. His new paintings were confident, and maybe even more colorful and spatially complex than his previous work. Schneider recently left Priska C Juschka, his gallery of several years. Besides being a painter, Schneider is also a curator and has organized high profile group shows in locations near and far, and he was at it again. He is behind a show which just opened in Austin, at Champion Contemporary, called “Wild Beasts.” He included a group of artists who share a love of color and admiration for Matisse and the French Fauves. Read some of our discussion after the jump.
Flat planes of colors, reflections, and perspective jostle next to each other creating hypnotic eye candy in this painting “Siren Island.” One detail I really loved was how the trees change from pink to green to pink… and then in the reflected water they are teal. When I asked Schneider about the trees and their reflection he said, “I’m getting interested in color and pattern, and blocks of color. I’m interested in figures which emerge from a pattern. Not just figures, but houses, still lifes, whatever, you know…” Later, I brought up the complexity of the space in this work, Ryan responded, “Some books you read and it feels like you’re in the space, not just the physical space but also the psychological space. Reflections are a metaphor for the senses, and the multiple ways we can perceive reality. Or, conversely, that reality can exist in multiple ways depending on how you look at it.”
“I don’t want the figure to fight the painting. I’ll bust it apart if I have too.”
“A couple of years ago I was making paintings – painting for me was always therapeutic. I was painting about my life, personal stuff, like drugs, alcohol, my girlfriend. Now I see a therapist once a week and when I come to the studio I make the paintings I want to see. The paintings are less about me now.”
“I can go look at Picasso, and maybe there isn’t an emotional experience, but the visual experience is an emotional experience for me.”