New York

Andres Schön

Jay Gorney Modern Art

Andreas Schön’s pantings are constructed from a lattice of straight lines and arcs that form a matrix of intersecting planes. From this abstract arrangement of the two-dimensional canvas, Schön develops a series of landscapes and a series of paintings of drawn window blinds.

In the landscape paintings, based on the plans of actual ancient Aegean sites and on fictional constructs, the transversing lines represent the roadways, furrowed ground, and architectural foundations of ancient lands. Olynth I, 1992, depicts the eroded Hippodamian grid used to plan the Greek town of Olynthus in the 5th century B.C. The compositions for Eryma II, 1991, Tholos I and Tholos II, both 1992, are fictive hybrids based on actual archaeological sites, fusing such elements as a circular, ancient public-burial monument with the contours of foundation walls.

These paintings record the beginnings of modern Western civilization. With their grids of intersecting lines overlaying the earth like a carpet of Carl Andre’s tiles, these works remind us that there is no longer an unadulterated landscape and also very little virgin territory left to painting. Schön’s landscapes are rendered in a diverse range of painterly styles: some in large brushy strokes that replicate the bleeding effects of a watercolor on a magnified scale, others, truer to their photographic sources, produce the illusionistic effects of modulated forms and create a logically receding space.

Schön selects his catalogue of images from photographs, books, newspapers, and magazines which function as a pictorial travelogue. As we recede into the deep perspectival space of the painting, we travel back in time. Like Sherrie Levine’s re-presentations of masterworks from picture-book reproductions, the experiences that Schön captures have traveled through the mediated channels of our consumer society.

Schön’s landscapes, however, are not estheticizations of picturesque ruins but emblems of the origins of civilization, underscoring the foggy distance time imposes on our view of history. Paintings like Olynth I are more than just a transcription of an archaeological monument: they are determined by contemporary interpretive modes that ultimately reflect our own subjective experience.

The complexity of dealing with historical themes in a contemporary context is more poetically confronted in the series, “Blind,” 1992. In these paintings, Schön demonstrates the historical discontinuity that occurs when blending past and present in a single experiential moment. As we look into these closed windows, which mimic the pattern of drawn venetian blinds, our gaze does not penetrate the surface but is caught in the viscous web of opaque paint. We are voyeurs, yet there is no one to look at, only a mute surface representing night or day. We find ourselves self-consciously looking into a barrier that demarcates the temporal void between the present moment of our experience and our separation and alienation from the past.

Kirby Gookin