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The superimposing (of elements like images, writing, logos, and daubs), and interruptions, interventions in the shape of narrow sickle-shaped lines that expand or lengthen like elastic, plastic material, are two of the recurrent features in the turbulent precipitation of Schnabel’s figurative and formal universe. While providing some pointers for interpretation, they certainly do not account for all of the sudden swerves, both formal and semantic, through which he develops the constant shifting of his discourse and representation, his plunging and resurfacing, and his explosions of color.
Schnabel seems to be compulsively driven to alter meaning, to explain didactically what exists and does not appear, or rather what betrays the senses and intellect when it does appear (Di che pasta sei fatto, Inviernosexoprimaveral, Maricha para ligar marica para luchar, Hat Full of Rain, and so on). This enables him to redraw the web of meanings and the geometric simplicity of ordered pairs, and also to create extraordinary portraits, to keep bodies poised in balance on blades of grass and pyramids on words, to turn machines into elephants and vice versa.
Schnabel’s shows become a work within the work in the very moment of their definition and organization, a composite meta-text that cannot be grasped and reduced to one single dimension, one single expressive category and genre.
And so it is with this show at the Correr, where the variety and complexity of Julian Schnabel’s work (and languages) emerge in all the richness and three-dimensionality of his writing, in all the creative ambiguity of his constant Promethean wanderings among signs and things, in his never-ending transformation of things into signs and signs into things.
(from the introduction by Giandomenico Romanelli)