Martijn Schuppers - Interferenz

17.03.2022 - 30.04.2022

Images of the Exhibition


Martijn Schuppers belongs to the generation of artists whose initial artistic work in the late 1980s was oriented towards late-modern colour field or hard edge painting. Hard edge refers to a style of painting that depicts nothing and abstracts from nothing, instead working in a stencil-like, flat and geometric manner with hard edges and contrasting demarcated areas of colour. Painters such as Ellsworth Kelly, Kenneth Noland and Frank Stella were among them. Frank Stella sums it up for himself: "You see what you see". The possibilities of subjective painting as formulated by the Abstract Expressionists or again by the Neo-Expressionists seemed to them to be outdated and backward-looking. They painted pictures without narratives in a visual language that was as simple as possible. Like their role models, Martijn Schuppers and others were still aiming for genuine pictorial invention. They were looking for a progressive development, especially within their own work.

By the late 1980s at the latest, this late-modern, hitherto predominant approach to art had become one of many different conceptions of art. How did an artist like Schuppers react to this postmodern, explicitly subjective stylistic pluralism? He developed and continues to develop his own way of painting with astonishing and brilliant visual effects. He developed his own style and his own technique of applying colour to canvas. It is nothing other than colour on canvas. The brilliance of the paintings comes from the use of the technique of colour application and painterly finesse. It is a process of research and refinement with which he continually develops his work. This pictorial research and the exploration of new pictorial techniques are still a speciality of his work today and it develops in a genuine and progressive way.

Today we see brilliant panel paintings in the works of Martijn Schuppers. We see what we see! But what do we really see? We don't see the materiality of colour on the canvas. We only see what we recognise! And what do we recognise? In some pictures it could be geologically precise cuts through stone or in others ultra-sharp satellite images of an alien planet. The brilliance results from their supposed precision and the sharpness of the apparent image. Even if very few of us have ever seen a geological section through a stone in its amorphous quality or a satellite image of another planet, this is exactly how we imagine such images. We assemble the image for ourselves in our heads on the basis of our own cultural competence. The images themselves create a precedence that is imprinted in our own imagination.

How do Martijn Schuppers' pictures relate to the issues that concern us today? The French philosopher Bruno Latour speaks of the terrestrial in our current civilisation. By this he means that mankind is substantially changing the geological conditions of the world and damaging them permanently. Images such as Schupper's, especially the "planetary" images, have the effect of making us aware of the terrestrial component of human civilisation. Terrestrial generally means relating to the earth and formed by deposits and geological processes. If we now replace geological with artistic, we have a very coherent description of Martijn Schuppers' pictures. From a materialistic point of view, the pictures only show their colour substance. The pictorial metaphor we project onto them results from our own world of images and experience.   

Wolf Guenter Thiel