In this challenging new exhibition, suggestively entitled Coquelicot [Wild Poppy], Adrian Schiess marks out extreme elements of his oeuvre and at the same time displays their connection – which can be better understood by thinking of a Möbius strip, whose two reverse sides imperceptibly but unpreventably merge into one another. To bring seemingly contrary painterly conceptions into play is a matter of extreme radicality and precision, which only a complete lack of understanding for the artistic thinking behind it could confuse with indecision, randomness or variability.
The first panels of 1986/87, laid flat on the floor and covered in coloured, reflecting enamel paint, come at the beginning of Adrian Schiess’s painterly oeuvre; the two panels in this new exhibition are from the years 2015 and 2019. For the first time now, chrome pigment is used for an enamel paint, whose dark grey-brown shade in combination with the micro-reflections of the metallic particles and reflections on the shining surface produces a coloration for which there is no known name. The term Schiess uses for this is Abglanz [radiance]. Abglanz points both to the explicit namelessness of this colour phenomenon and to its mingling with images that reflect the surroundings.
The smoothness, the sheen and the lucidity of the coloured panels contrast with the density, material richness, lustrelessness, non-uniformity and gestural disorientation of new, large-format paintings on paint-permeable gauze. Lying on top of one another on the floor, these were produced by a process that largely removes them from the painter’s control and is only towards its end submitted to a final intervention. Whilst the production of the coloured panels is meticulously planned and executed by an outside workshop, the gauze painting is the product of long-term processes of sedimentation, removal and accumulation. Yet the two opposing painterly practices are in agreement on the point that the artistic subject forms itself through them by taking steps to counter its own dominion over the production of the work.