Erik Schmidt: Retreat

Texts (German/English) by Traudi Messini, Pier Paolo Pancotto, Björn Vedder, Interview by Adriano Sack with Erik Schmidt
168 p with 120 coloured illustrations
260 x 295 mm, clothbound embossed

ISBN 978-3-86442-405-2

48,00 €

Which has been planned fails; what has been jotted down, is accepted

Adriano Sack: In your new film »Inizio« you hold up a sign saying »Paradise«. What role does the notion of paradise play in your work and in your dream?
Erik Schmidt: The attempt to stage life as paradise is an important impulse in me. When I go somewhere I feel this total fascination even if it is only a beach with palm trees. Paradise is obviously not meant in any religious sense. Rather, in the sense of happainess on Earth.
AS: You shot the Inizio in the garden of Villa Massimo in Rome. What does this place mean to you?
ES: It is a very beautiful garden. But the film is not set at the Villa Massimo, but at some undetermined location. At the time of the shoot Italy way still in lockdown and we needed a haven of privacy.
AS: For the first time in any of your films, there is an alter ego, the young actor Christian Erdt. Is there no »Inizio« for the older artist?
ES: No. Or yes. There is a new beginning, but there is no way back. The clothes, which the other one puts on, do not fit me. I have to continue from wherever I find myself.

AS: »Inizio« is the supplementary counterpart to »Fine«, which you shot in Olevano near Rome. »I am a man of the world«, the latter film begins, while the actor walks towards a house of the dead. What does this mean in a small Italian town like Olevano?
ES: It seems fitting. Is it not the case that the people in small towns think themselves men of the world? A true man of the world would not think so.
AS: In »Fine« the artist pours oil over himself. That is a recuring theme in your films. There is a constant robing and unrobing: your body is bathed, massaged or doused. What have you not done to yourself?
ES: No tattoos. No piercings. Nothing that causes permanent damage.

AS: You have painted the Westphalian forest, olive bushes in Israel, palm trees in Asia. Is there a connection?
ES: There is a formal and structural connection. Plants always have a centre. I have carried that to extremes in the palm trees. They are square, whit the nut in the middle. Apart from that I am completely free when I am painting trees. In portraiture, you are bound by some loyalty to the face. With nature, nobody knows where it is coming from. Especially when painting over photographs. I am completely free as a painter then. It is almost like Action painting: I throw paint around, it runs and drips. The palm tree on my painting is also quite battered. But it remains identifiable.

(Three short passages from the nterview by Adriano Sack with Erik Schmidt)

Kunstraum Potsdam, 18/9 – 30/10/2022