In a studio overlooking a courtyard, Gary Schlingheider‘s work space is soon to be available for public viewing at the opening of the graduate show at Berlin’s University of the Arts (UDK). In the open room, his carefully curated works ’30mm’ and ‘The Fountain’ showcase simplicity, craftsmanship and the artist’s belief in colour, structure and form. At the core of his work are those three interests; with content, meaning and expression as secondary. Through painting and sculpture, Schlingheider has created and blurred the boundary between the two disciplines.
’30mm’ is an extension from his previous exhibition, ‘The Playground’, in which he used welded steel structures painted in monochrome colours to represent the brightness of a public playing area. The steel works are to be showcased on numerous levels, playing with boundaries and space, thus highlighting the importance of space.
Although less colourful, ’30mm’ also looks into the use of space. Schlingheider believes the room impacts what is felt and how one interprets his pieces. Up close, the grey steel structures reveal grooves and track marks from where pressure has been applied to create the shapes. He shows me drawings of carefully mapped out sketches and measurements that blueprint his final work. The focus is drawn towards the shape, promoting questions and discussion. This is intended via his placement of hollow shapes against a neutral background. More importantly, he asks us to look at the versatility of space and materials. Although structurally sound, the steel frames can be placed indoors and out, withstand weather conditions, paint and machinery. Visually, they take on the role of a painting but, practically, they hold the value of a sculpture.
Schlingheider appears to be highly concerned with space and emotion. In the room, one couldn’t help but feel light. ‘The Fountain 1’, which is hung directly opposite the structures, reflects the absence of space by filling a cotton canvas from its corner with a graphite colour atop a pink canvas. Paired with another pink-painted canvas, ‘The Fountain 2’ required ten layers of paint to create a smooth and polished finish. Upon inspection, the colours appear 3-dimensional, especially in a room of protruding metal lines and shapes. The carefully chosen colour scheme brightens the shapes and fills the room with a soft glow.
Schlingheider’s practice is above all one of appreciating colour and beauty, without overbearing the viewer: his curatorial eye is an asset to his work. In that regard, ’30mm’ and ‘The Fountain’ represent balance: a balance that comes from taking larger conceptual ideas and funnelling them into clear, accessible and simple pieces. A definite must see.