Thomas Schönauer - Painting for the future generation...
The roots of Thomas Schönauer’s art lie in the humanities and in linguistics, but especially in philosophy. His studies in the humanities sensitised the artist toward a way of life of philosophical orientation. They fed his intellectual awareness and created the base for a process of maturing towards art. Ultimately, perception itself grew to be Schönauer’s quintessential subject. The visualisation of subjectivity and objectivity, i.e., the defining of where the human stands, became a motor of his work.
From the beginning of his career, he worked in metal and he has remained true to that medium. A milestone in his œuvre are the Metaphysischen Skulpturen. They comprise works of two, three or more parts and are composed as variations on basic geometric forms such as the square, triangle or circle. They generate a tension in juxtaposing weight and lightness, mass and intangibility, the material and the non-material.
Other outstanding works are the Skydrop – these sculptures do not rise from the ground, they drop from the sky. Besides these his exceptional and meanwhile worldwide highly regarded Atompops: works of polished, silver-glinting spheres of stainless steel.
The Space Paintings on Steel are Schönauer’s point of departure for three-dimensional imagery on a plane surface. This field of his work came about from the idea of arriving at object-like and three-dimensional pieces via the two-dimensionality of, for example, ink and watercolour drawing. The Space Paintings virtually reproduce the different planes of a sculptural group – elevation, ground plan and bird’s-eye-view.
In the CT-Paintings (CT as in Computer Tomography), Schönauer distils this procedure in a continuing exploration of the material/non-material theme. This technique was developed over many years, in collaboration with a manufacturer of industrial varnishes. The fusion in this series is of a prolonged process of development with a manner of painting that breathes improvisation. The act of creation is brief, but based on intense preparation and detailed mental planning. It culminates in a moment of utter concentration.
Only the primary colours and black and white are used – five elements added as liquid pigment to a medium of epoxy resin. Once the colour composition has been applied to the steel plate, an organic process begins. The paints act of their own accord, run apart, commingle, react one to the other, change tones, suppress now this now that pigment or liberate it. In this osmosis, lines become plane, planes coalesce into landscapes. The relief-like quality arises both out of the layering of the material and from the colours themselves. The CT Paintings are an object lesson in classical colour theory. They demonstrate the behaviour of the primary colours, of black and white and even on occasion betray their differing specific weight. On account of no more than their inherent qualities, the colours create an impression of space. Even on one common plane, yellow and red will optically always come to the fore whereas blue and dark tones will recede into the background. The depth of visual space results from the different effects of the individual nuances.
With the dialogue of materials worlds apart, Schönauer once again directs his attention to the fusion of contrasts and to dialectics.