Shotgun Review


By Kara Q. Smith May 30, 2011

It is the process of formation that underpins the dialogue between the works of Volker Eichelmann and Florian Schmidt in Haute, the current exhibition at Silverman Gallery. These two meticulous European artists thoughtfully play with the abstract notions of utopic construction and presentation in two separate but compatible modus operandi.

In his Proposals for Sculptures and Buildings (2010), a grid of fifteen postcard-size collages, Volker Eichelmann invites one to closely examine each of these fantastical compositions of tacit projects. His proposals are unlike the oft-exhibited architectural plans or similar projects from artists like Vito Acconci, whose unrealized public-art proposals attend to location-centric detail and accompany written statements relaying the relevance of each proposal’s general urban contribution. It is not evident that Eichelmann attributes such axiomatic germaneness or researched models of scale to his consciously utopian images floating in the middle of their black backgrounds, devoid of place. Instead, he has excavated the ideological construction of a proposal to its core components of imagination and potential, articulated through his deliberate process of formation. Each tiny black rectangle is a provocation to imagine a plausible setting for the potential actualization of these fantastical, urbane constructions.

Devoid of figures and text, Florian Schmidt’s wooden sculptures structurally intervene in the gallery space. Mimicking the shape of Silverman’s projected polygonal windows and held in by only one screw, Schmidt’s open, light sculptures meld into the extant gallery space and almost invite one to carefully step through them, though such action does not seem prudent, just as one would hesitate to knowingly enter a stranger’s backyard even though the gate were unlocked.

Like his sculptures, Schmidt’s two-dimensional works are coherent, industrious constructions of discarded remnants from other works. Colorful and simple, their series titles—like Community (2011)—speak to the quiet processes by which seemingly disparate individual components can be organized based on some abstract notion of similarity; in this case, painted pieces of wood and canvas share their would-

Volker Eichelmann. Der Mensch ist kein Baum (Proposals for Sculptures and Buildings), 2010; collage on card; 9.5 × 13 in. Courtesy of the Artist and Silverman Gallery, San Francisco.

be-discarded-scrap status, to create a cohesive representation of interaction.

Whether their results are utopic urban constructions or conceptual formations, both Eichelmann and Schmidt are creating work in a refreshingly formalistic aesthetic that elicits layers of dialogue relating to ideals of our contemporary polis.



Haute is on view at Silverman Gallery, in San Francisco, through June 4, 2011. 


Kara Q. Smith is an independent writer, curator, and urban researcher living in San Francisco.

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