If you are already acquainted with the work of German artist Regine Schumann (Goslar, 1961), you know their irresistible power.
The artist has been working for decades with luminous paintings-sculptures that radiate a colored aura into the surrounding space, thus enveloping the viewer into an ever-changing intimate and emotional atmosphere.
Regine Schumann’s color-sculptures mutate as the light changes.
The acrylic tops of these fluorescent “boxes”, that appear to emanate luminosity, are transparent, opaque, translucent, concave, convex, reflective or absorbent. They react to natural light, artificial light and black light, determining the perception of the space they inhabit.
The aura of light-color pervades the whole room and transforms it into the space of dreams.
“Regine Schumann has invented a fluorescence that changes the color of our living space, projecting us into an experience hovering in between natural and artificial reality.”
These are curator Alberto Zanchetta’s words accompanying Chromasophia (which stands for “wisdom of color”), Regine Schumann’s solo exhibition at Dep Art Gallery in Milan, until March 30, 2021.
Is your research focused on color or light?
Regine Schumann: For me, the two are inseparably connected; after all, we only recognize color when light surrounds us. If the light is bright and intense, the colored surfaces illuminate our objective world; entire landscapes not only brighten our minds, but also influence our perception, basically our entire imagination.
I like this changeable, enormous power of the interplay of light and color, which is able to influence our emotionality.
Before acrylic glass, you worked with painting and site-specific installations. How did you come to choose this material for your creations?
Regine Schumann: I felt an unconscious attraction for transparent materials.
At first it was glasses, vases, bottles. I was passionate about drawing or watercoloring still lifes. I wanted to capture the translucency, delicacy and transparency of glass objects and wanted to catch their auratic expansion in space.
That I discovered acrylic glass was a coincidence, but when I realized that I could work artistically with this industrial, cool synthetic material – it was an incredible moment! I realized that I could use all my previous knowledge about color and painting to create completely new bodies of color.
Your practice also relates to a discourse on emptiness, conveyed with your painted, aniconic display-cases. These reverberate in larger spaces as if they were containers of emptiness within wider containers, more or less inhabited.
Regine Schumann: You really expressed that in a very particular way… I like to create spaces that in turn leave room for something new: for the physical body as well as for the spirit.
For me, emptiness is not vacant, but a place I yearn for, a place that creates and leaves space to unfold and expand within.My sculptural, colorful art objects serve as luminous projection screens of our emotions that fill them.
What are your sources of inspiration?
Regine Schumann: My life is my source of inspiration; my personal strokes of fate, every beautiful or sad experience and the emotions associated with it, all this influences me consciously or unconsciously and is part of my work.
What role has technology played and still plays in the construction of your pathway across painting, sculpture and architecture?
Regine Schumann: I like to study the technology I want to use, in order to understand all possibilities and create something new. Only when I have this knowledge can I make the technology my own and use it for my ideas. I also love to think about small details in order to find the best, most perfect solution.
With my production company, with which I have been working for many years, I create by machines as well as by hand these large, heavy, acrylic bodies, cut and assembled with millimeter precision, as conceived and graphically sketched by me.
What value do you attach to travel?
Some series of works are named after towns and cities, for example you pay a homage to Milan in this exhibition. Are these always places where you have lived or that you have travelled across, in some ways?
Regine Schumann: Traveling totally inspires me; I intensively absorb all the impressions gained, landscapes, cities and especially the people I meet. I observe them and myself, the otherness, the strangeness – all this increases my curiosity to understand them and the country, to make myself familiar with their ‘language’.
A place name almost always appears in the title of my artworks. I choose this place name when I have created the artworks specifically for this place or city and exhibit them in this place for the first time.
Like with a red thread, I hold so my travel or life stations. My works are memoirs, memories of a journey or my life’s path.
By contrast, the immobility caused by the pandemic has inspired the Moons series.
Could you share with us the feelings behind this cluster of works, and their peculiar characteristics?
Regine Schumann: The greatest challenge is certainly that we all have to live with the uncertainty that no one knows how long we will actually have to live with this pandemic, the uncertainty influences our thoughts and actions and questions our position in the world.
In a space of movement unexpectedly restricted by this worldwide pandemic, the series of works of “moons” focus on distance and closeness, unfulfilled desires for the far away and movement in the new, slowed down flow of time.
“Moons” are color bodies with a clearly reduced colorfulness, in which the color black as well as a luminescent white play a special role. I have chosen black and white either as a semi-circular element or as a background layer, seemingly captured in a white frame and overlaid by a soft transparent and fluorescent front panel.
What is special about these new works is that these communicating as well as separating semicircular shapes are visibly inserted into the frame. They each extend a few centimeters out of the surrounding ‘frame’. The disk-like circle segments break through the border, pierce the boundary and make an infinite expansion conceivable – an effect that seems intensified by the fluorescence of the front panel and thanks to the interaction of the white frame. The seemingly fixed boundaries are broken through and the work appears – in the afterglow – as if set in an auratically luminous frame that radiates deeply into the space.
Like all my works, “moons” go through an additional transformation in different light situations, in daylight or black light. In addition, they glow after in complete darkness. Like luminous ‘half moons’ they then illuminate the space.
The viewer looks into the body of color, he recognizes himself and perceives how the color grows out of the frame and into the space, coming towards him, enveloping him and passing above him.
What will your next projects be?
Regine Schumann: Following the “moons” I have now created a new series of works, which will bear the title “colormirror mesh“. Within the frame is a plate that resembles a net-like mask. It pushes itself into the color body with concave semicircular forms at the edge of the frame and thus lies between the satin-colored background plate and the transparent front plate.
The color of the background surface optically pushes forward, through the ‘mask’ of the semicircles, and emphasizes the concave semicircular shapes. Positive and negative spaces seem to move, overlap, dissolve. There is an interplay of concealing and revealing between the three levels, between the background, middle and foreground within a body of color space.