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It is a puzzling, mysterious world that Janes Schmallenberg presents us with his paintings. Human beings with mighty torsos, excessively long – or nonexistent – necks, small heads and slim feet stand – no: hover – in enchanted landscapes with stylised plants and trees that, at first glance, seem to be dead, at second glance wind most lively like lianas and simulate a strange humanization. In addition there are lemur-like figures, Evil Spirits, as a title reveals, and animals such as elephants or a Red Being. A lot is happening in these closed worlds between paradise and apocalypse – but what exactly?

The young artist refers to Monsieur Teste, Paul Valéry’s artsy figure that is completely controlled by brain and rationality. This suggests that as phantastic-surreal as these pictures appear, they are, at the same time, intellectual constructions. However, this „Mr. Head“ has got a major counter figure in the work itself, being Mme Cœur. To the cool intellect she adds the heart, its warmth and emotions. Madame Cœur, in her red robe, is quite an imposing appearance, leading two elephants – yet they are all hovering in the clouds. So light and heavy are opposed to each other, and we might consider what to assign to the head, the thinking, what to the heart, the emotions.

Schmallenberg utilizes intellect and emotions for a clearly defined goal: He wants to grab and draw us into the pictures without letting us go. Therefore the enigmatic that makes us stop, therefore the comprehensible and familiar that initiates our first step into the picture, therefore the intense coloration, full of contrasts. We are requested – or rather: the artists tries to force us – to tell the suggested stories ourselves; he wants us to spend more than the usual eleven seconds before his pictures and to finish the scene according to our own ideas, be it with sympathy, or with aversion. This corresponds to the artist’s own procedure: not the narrative content, but painting itself is the subject matter, everything results from the process of painting, the action. That is why Schmallenberg needs the large format: there has to be enough space for the strokes of the brush and for experimentations.

Similar to Janes Schmallenberg, André Breton was fascinated by Monsieur Teste. But the young artist’s line of tradition goes far beyond Surrealism, it comprises an Expressionist like Heinrich Campendonk, the Fauvist Henri Matisse, Symbolists such as Edvard Munch, Gustave Moreau, Odilon Redon and Paul Gauguin and goes back to the Sacro Bosco near Momarzo in the Latium region of Italy, established in the mid-16th century. This Mannerist „Park of Monsters“ with its bizarre mixture of amazement, riddles, horror, play and fun had long been forgotten and was rediscovered only by the Surrealists.

Works

Biography

1988 born in Warstein, lives and works in Berlin

2005-13 Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, with Prof. Siegfried Anzinger
2010 Master student
2013 Academy letter

Exhibitions (selection)

S = Solo show

2015 Vivisektion, Volksbank Weinheim Gallery, Collection Baumgartner, Weinheim (S)
Demerol – The Comeback of the year, with S.Lis und M.Thiel, Argh!, Berlin (S)
Berlin Bozen Connection, Studio Chrom, Bolzano
2014 Bocca Della Verità, Epicentro-Art, Berlin (S)
2013 Fisch und Fröhlich, Galerie Villa Köppe, Berlin (S)
100 years America, with Christian Korda, Warum Verlag, Berlin (S)
2012 German Kleinformat, Neter, Mexico City
German Kleinformat Vol. 3, Raum Pilot Projekt für Kunst e.V., Düsseldorf
Central Horizon, Penny Temporary, Neumünster
New Acquisitions – Art from NRW, Museum Kornelimünster, Aachen
New Kids on the Block, Neu-West-Berlin, Berlin
Show of the Week, Freies Museum, Berlin
2011 Die Böse Laune der Guten Miene, Essential Existence Gallery, Leipzig
Ich kann kein Bier mehr sehen, Galerie Grundeinkommen, Berlin
Lupi, with Dejan Spasovski und Johannes Kithil, Jagla Ausstellungsraum, Köln (S)
Bahnhof Anzinger, Galerie Geuer und Breckner, Düsseldorf
2010 Müssen, Können, Wollen, mit Wanda Koller, Intervall, Köln (E)
The’ve just started, Oktoberbar, Düsseldorf
And there is always something missing, and that bothers me, Kunstgruppe, Köln
Not necessarily, with D.Spasovski und J. Kithil, Raum Kalk, Köln (E)
For my part, Kunstgruppe, Köln
Extra shift, Kunstverein Oberhausen, Oberhausen
2009 Special exhibition, Garage Gereonswall, Köln
Sigi, Lichthof Köln, Köln
2008 The paper, Projektraum Open, Düsseldorf
2007 And there is always something missing, and that bothers me, Werkstatt Graz, Graz
2006 On women, with Oliver Kolibabka and Satoshi Kojima, Citadelle, Düsseldorf (E)

For further information please see the artist’s website: Janes Schmallenberg