Painter Erik Schmidt

Erik Schmidt is a fine artist who was born and raised in 1968 in Herford, currently he’s living and working in Berlin. Today we meet him at his studio in Wedding before heading to his home in a Berlin Plattenbau close to Alexanderplatz where he introduces us to some of his frequently used items for our ‘Lieblingsstücke’ Feature in collaboration with Vitsœ. He arranged his items around the 621 Side Table.

Erik Schmidt’s first exhibited series called ‘Parking’, shown in the mid-nineties, was composed of urban sceneries of Berlin as he had just moved to the German capital at that time and was capturing the view onto the parking lot of his home with ‘Zuhause’ or painted ‘Trolleys’ in bright colors, that we rediscover leaning against the wall of his living room.

When he came to Berlin back then, the art scene was still pretty assessable and he quickly got in touch with gallery owners and buyers who showed interest in his works. Soon he moved into a two-storey studio apartment from former GDR times in a plattenbau at Platz der Vereinten Nationen where he still lives today. The loft has its own studio in a separate room on top of the building, where he used to work until 2007 when he moved into a spacious studio in Wedding. His former workspace at home is now his living room, where we spot the 620 Chair Programme, that Vitsœ completely re-engineered the in 2013, next to two vintage Eiermann chairs and a lamp with a corncob foot that he bought in a second hand shop in his hometown. A concrete wall carries the 606 Universal Shelving System that is equipped with various books and Magazines. His home is a colorful cabinet of curiosities where he skillfully mixes modern elements with old treasures.

He places his ‘Lieblingsstücke’ on a 621 Side Table for us. Amongst them we find chocolate, next to his favourite scent, Maison Martin Margiela ‘Untitled’ which a friend gave him in New York and his Premiata shoes, that he had been wearing for years. He received the book ‘Gegen den Strich’ by Joris-Karl Huysmans which is about a decadent esthete as a present from friends a couple of times and although he wouldn’t see himself like that it paints quite a picture. Next to the keys for his Volvo, which he enjoys driving, is the card of the Chinese Restaurant of his choice, that offers authentic Chinese dishes in his neighbourhood called Da Jia Le. We also discover some of his own paintings in his space.

Arriving at his studio in Wedding, we enter a vast light-drenched space where we find paintings of the series he’s currently working on hanging and leaning on the walls. They all feature smoke in various forms, sometimes bright and colorful, sometimes reduced and minimalistic. He had been collecting imagery of teargas, explosions and burning cars which he then transfers in abstract forms onto the canvas.

Erik Schmidt paints his picture after photo material that he creates himself or collects online and in magazines, he sketches the picture on the canvas before painting over it with rough, structured brushstrokes. His paintings often feature colorless negative spaces that he used to paint in white back in the days, today he dares to just leave them blank. His subjects are carefully chosen, he often finds them on his travels or trips in other spheres of life. In New York he collected material for his series Downtown and Post Occupy in 2011, the piece Hunting Grounds was heavily inspired by the hunting culture in Germany.
This summer he’ll be spending three months in Tokyo where he’ll collect impressions and photo material and maybe return with a subject for a new series in mind.

Photography by Ana Santl, Interview and text by Caroline Kurze

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