Photo: Dieter Mayr
With »Aufbruch«, his site-specific installation at Deutscher Künstlerbund, Schmidt urges us to make a decision with a provocative, pointed comment on the spaces that remain available to us within society: political spaces where the hope of change is forever under threat; living and working spaces to which only capital has easy access; and mental spaces that are constantly contracting under the pressure of fear and the challenges of everyday life.
In »Aufbruch« (»new start« or »departure«), whose sculptural minimalism could almost be read as a rejection of the space in which it is presented, promise and potential exist alongside uncertainty and risk. For when a new start is not voluntary but forced, then it means flight or displacement. Or it happens for want of better alternatives, out of an inability to adapt, or due to simple frustration.
In each of the several dozen cardboard boxes that make up the installation, Schmidt seems to want to place a question in the space. Start afresh or stay still? Move away or adapt? Break free or run a risk? Leave everything behind or face the challenge? Take to the road or settle down? Look elsewhere or give up?
»Where are we going?« seems to be the key question here, a question faced not only by artists in the current situation, but also by every human being, again and again, with varying degrees of urgency. What do we know about the situation of refugees fleeing to escape violence and death? Is our new government really capable of making a new start with us? Or will the parties block each other in their dispute over objectives? And where are we going? To the new studio or apartment that now costs half our income? Withdrawing because we are unable to change anything about the pandemic or about politics?
»Aufbruch« is a decision. And, whatever happens, it is a change.
In addition to the installation, a large-format exhibition book presenting Schmidt’s artistic oeuvre, and especially his interventions in public space, can be viewed in the gallery.
HAP Grieshaber Prize
Martin Schmidt is this year’s winner of the »HAP-Grieshaber-Preis der VG Bild-Kunst«. As one of Germany’s most richly endowed art prizes (25,000 euros), the HAP Grieshaber Prize has been awarded since 1999 for outstanding achievements in contemporary art. The current solo exhibition by Martin Schmidt is one of a series of shows featuring HAP Grieshaber Prize winners hosted by Deutscher Künstlerbund since 2003 in cooperation with VG Bild-Kunst and Stiftung Kunstfonds.
The painter and woodcutter HAP Grieshaber played a key part in the initiative to establish VG Bild-Kunst, Germany’s copyright agency for visual art. From the 1970s onwards, Grieshaber campaigned hard for copyright on behalf of his fellow artists, as well as being a strong advocate of improved social support for artists.
The prize money for the HAP Grieshaber is provided by Stiftung Kulturwerk, the cultural organization of VG Bild-Kunst, using funds held back in accordance with the agency’s plans for copyright payments. The prize is thus a mark of recognition for artists from artists. Each year’s winner is selected by the trustees of Stiftung Kunstfonds from the applicants for working grants.
About the artist
Martin Schmidt (born 1963 in Munich) trained as a woodcarver in Oberammergau before returning to Munich where he studied sculpture at Academy of Fine Arts (1985–1993). He attended the master class of Prof. Olaf Metzel before working as his assistant. Schmidt’s objects, installations and drawings have been shown in many exhibitions and art projects. In 1997 he was awarded the Villa Romana Prize (Florence) and in 2004 the Villa Massimo Prize (Rome). He lives and works in Munich.
His installations arise from the social context and can mostly be read as comments on the western way of life. His large-scale works play with and unsettle our perceptions, as the familiar and the everyday suddenly appear in a different context. The installations mostly portray real situations and can be experienced as a walk-in space.
Schmidt began making site-specific works in the early 1990s: in public spaces and independent venues, but also at theatres and museums. With their specific aesthetics, functions and locations, the individual places acted as points of departure for his artistic concepts.
Tuesday–Friday, 2–6 pm and by appointment
The exhibition is closed between December 24, 2021 and January 3, 2022.