Magazine article Artforum International

Markus Schinwald: YVON LAMBERT

Magazine article Artforum International

Markus Schinwald: YVON LAMBERT

Article excerpt

NEW YORK

Elegant, unsettling, and thoroughly persuasive, Markus Schinwald's New York solo debut provided an overdue introduction to the versatile Austrian-born artist's uncanny talent for lavishly evocative modes of detournement. Schooled in both theory and fashion design, Schinwald is fascinated with the potential and limitations of bodies, as physical objects and as metaphoric subjects. Despite its slightly bewildering disciplinary heterogeneity (his projects over the last decade, seen almost exclusively in Europe, have involved painting, photography, sculpture, film, video, installation, theater, dance, puppetry, and various combinations thereof), his practice does have a clear central intent: to fluster the distinctions between people and things, between the body and its surroundings, hybridizing and adulterating each with elements of the other and then teasing out the disquieting psychological effects that ensue.

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Here at Lambert, Schinwald deployed his trademark interventions in both large-and small-scale contexts. The show was unprepossessing at first glance, built around a modest selection of reworked found oil paintings and a handful of sculptures constructed from furniture legs, all tastefully arrayed within the pristine gallery space designed by Richard Gluckman in collaboration with Thomas Zolli. But closer inspection revealed the fundamental deformations these superficially anodyne artifacts had endured under Schinwald's attentions. The untitled sculptures (all works 2009), presented on strategically discordant plinths laminated with high-finish wood veneers like modernist stereo cabinetry, were anthropomorphized tangles of Chippendale cabrioles--alternately wriggling and lolling, they read like casualties of wayward butchering or some unspecified teratogenic mishap, as, for instance, in the representatively queasy evocation of both surplus limbs and animal carcasses in Untitled (legs) #15.

Just as he manages to identify latent signs of malevolence in these fragments of wholly unremarkable sitting-room decor, Schinwald also locates the potential for menace in the unlikely setting of classic portraiture. His paintings begin with appropriated oils of indeterminate provenance--competently painted if unremarkable canvases, probably eighteenth or nineteenth-century--which he first has restored and then slyly deforms, typically through the addition of delicately rendered forms of cryptic prosthesis: Peculiar little bandages, slings, splints, braces, and other obscure, quasi-medical paraphernalia are insinuated into their otherwise calmly quotidian representational environments. …

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