Emil Schumacher

K20 Grabbeplatz

Amazing the strength, the energy, the élan vital, the dynamics that radiate from Emil Schumacher’s new paintings. Amazing how much hurt, suffering, experience, as well as resoluteness and intensity, throb beneath the colorful layers, beneath the crustlike surfaces and the black lines that dig like streams of lava into the earthy pigments.

Schumacher’s paintings are done with nervous, hectic gestures and seeming impatience. Their brittle surfaces evince traces of strokes, slashes, and wounds inflicted by the painter himself. They recall denuded landscapes—a countryside with parched soil full of cracks and craters. The black lines evoke paths, sometimes archways or hills. Yet the artist aims at no recognizable shapes. The forms crystallize exclusively from the painting process itself.

Along with Peter Brüning, Bernard Schultze, and Gerhard Hoehme, Schumacher is one of the most important representatives of German informal painting, which arose after World War II, with the goal of restoring to Germany the abstract art outlawed by the Nazis. The pursuit of abstraction was more than just an artistic direction for these painters. It was virtually an avowal of freedom, of everything that makes life worth living. And this sensibility can still be felt in Schumacher’s work. German informalism demanded the full range of experience, which had been denied to these painters during their youth in the Third Reich. They felt they could realize this demand in paintings free of the restraint of objects; in works that, instead of drawing on some ideology, relied on vitality and randomness. The disorder of the signs, the irregularity of the outlines, the explosions of colors and strokes was meant to invite the viewer to establish relationships, thereby freely gathering his/her own experiences from the given content.

The forms, colors, and strokes in Schumacher’s paintings offer the viewer an inexhaustible wellspring of experiences. Beyond this, they also bear witness to the intrinsic meaning of a picture, per se—a meaning that transcends mere esthetics and shows people ways of finding themselves and their own capacity for expression.

Noemi Smolik

Translated from the German by Jouchim Neugroschel.