empathy

Is That Julian Schnabel at the CFA Gallery?!

The renowned film director proves that he’s not a one trick pony with his latest exhibition. See what this film director is also capable of!

In the shadow of Museum Island in Berlin stands Contemporary Fine Arts, a striking building currently hosting an impressive collection of artwork: Julian Schnabel’s Deus Ex Machina. Here, the man behind award winning films such as The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (2007) and Before Night Falls (2000) showcases his latest work. Impressive, not purely because of their vast size but because of the energy which bursts from each piece; huge brush-strokes, strong and confident, explode across the canvas and clouds of cosmic purple dust linger above traditionally envisioned landscapes and armies.

The marriage between seemingly disjointed aesthetics is central to the exhibition. Schnabel enlarges photographs of other images before he then elaborates on them, creating another level of interpretation and allowing a dialogue between past and present to then emerge. This communication between the different layers forced me to reconsider my conceptions of abstract art as well as the benefits of moving away from the “virgin surface,” or in other words the blank canvas.

Themes of Fragmentation


Up the stairs, I found a room filled with three identical images of Shiva, lifted from the Hindu deity. Despite their similarities, each has undergone a reinvention at the hands of Schnabel: on one wall we witness Shiva obscured by plaits of heavy, textured oil paint slinking down the canvas to gather in a multi-colored whirlpool; on another a hectic brawl of lines snake and intersect each other as the paint juts intrusively from the works surface. On each appears the word “Bez,” scrawled and tag-like, in uneven tones of spray paint. Through the aesthetic tensions provoked between foreground and background, Schnabel encourages his visitors to consider the fragmentation of our world, both historically and culturally.

If you are still craving some further creative stimulation after experiencing Julian Schnabel, climb up another flight of stairs to Celine and Heiner Bastian’s Damien Hirst retrospective.

CFA Julian Schnabel, “Deus Ex Machina”, 28 April – 28 July 2012, Tue – Fri: 11am – 6pm, Sat: 11am – 4pm. (Price range $200,000 – $650,000)