Lena Schmidt

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*1981 Bremen
2004–2011 Hochschule für bildende Künste Hamburg, Prof. Matt Mullican und Prof. Mari Jose Burki
2016–2020 Department Design, HAW Hamburg
  Lives and works in Hamburg

Grants / Scholarships

2010-2011 Fountainheadresidency, Miami, USA
2007-2010 Scholarship, Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes

Solo exhibitions

2017 Outdoors, 30works II, Cologne
Silence In Between, Kunstverein Stade
2015 Bildwechsel, Galerie Atelier Klint, Rendsburg
2014 The Daily Moods of Lena Schmidt & Christian Jaeschke (with Christian Jaeschke), Herr Beinlich - Contemporary Fine Art Space, Bielefeld
2013 Memories Of Forgotten Spaces, Braeuning Contemporary, Hamburg
2012 Power Lines, k’– Zentrum aktuelle Kunst, Bremen
2011 Urban Spaces, Victoria Gallery, Portland, USA
Lucid (with Evan Roberts), Primary Project Space, Miami, USA
2009 urbanscapes, heliumcowboy artspace, Hamburg

Group exhibitions

2022 Zinower, Künstlerhaus Sootbörn (Upcoming)
  Linolschnitt Heute XII, Grafikpreis der Stadt Bietigheim-Bissingen (Upcoming)
  Mixed Media, Evelyn Drewes | Galerie, Hamburg
2021 salondergegenwart, Springer Quartier, Hamburg
  Sino-German Art Exhibition, Hismoon Gallery, Taicang, China
2020 ART OFF Hamburg – Second Sight, Westwerk, Hamburg
2019 In Da Wood II, Gängeviertel, Hamburg
2018 Intermezzo, Pretty Portal, Düsseldorf
  Summer Breeze, 30works, Cologne
2016 Off Property 2, Studio 45, Hamburg
2014 Betreff 28, Westwerk goes Bremer Kunstfrühling, Bremen
2013 permanent, Pure Evil Gallery, London, UK
2012 A year of paintings and other pursuits, Victory Gallery, Portland, USA
  Party find ich unheimlich interessant, Galerie Oel-Frueh, Hamburg
  Knock On Wood, Schau Fenster, Berlin
2011 New Small Works, during Art Basel Miami Beach, Primary Project Space, Miami, USA
  WRY – Wendenstraße goes Galerie Genscher, Galerie Genscher, Hamburg
2010 Nord Art, KIC Rendsburg
2009 INDEX 09, Kunsthaus Hamburg, Hamburg
2008 5 years heliumcowboy artspace, Bieberhaus, Hamburg
2006 Plattform #3, Kunstverein Hannover

A dark street. The only weak source of light: a street lamp. It bathes a deserted factory landscape in warm red, the rest sinks into the darkness of the night. The scene appears deserted, almost ghostly, only populated by shadowy architecture.

A motif that is reminiscent of film images by David Lynch, the master of staging surreal, gloomy imagery. The cult director Lynch loves to stage old, dilapidated industrial places in his bizarre films. He is magically drawn to them. Lena Schmidt shares the fascination for their hidden beauty, as the motifs carved into wood show us so fascinatingly. For example the piece»Brandshofhalle«, which shows an abandoned industrial building on Hamburg's Elbbrücken, the title of the work reveals. But at the same time this industrial landscape, beyond its specific locality and beyond the »picturesque«, is more comprehensive: one of these atmospheric places or rather non-places, referred to by Lynch as »nowhere places«, which can be found all over the world and in our minds.
The association with the moving image is due to a recognizable cinematic look in Schmidt's sculptural woodwork. A fact that does not seem surprising, considering her training in sculpture and video art with Prof. Matt Mullican and Prof. Mari Jose Burki at the artschool in Hamburg: two ostensibly contradicting fields that are harmoniously connected in Schmidt's works hybrid character to be at the same time image and object.
The works get their clear object character from their strong materiality. Because Lena Schmidt works with wood and therefore fits into a historical sculptural tradition. And yet she breaks with this by emphasizing not only the aspect of the natural, but above all its contradiction to the industrial in whose context her material is used. It is the disused, left behind waste product of the industrial wasteland: pillars, ply wood and poles. Each of these unique pieces bears traces of its original origin. The consequences of the decomposition process, whether corrosion, weathering or color imprinting by the sun, are almost engraved in the memory of the wood. On this surface, Schmidt's drawn and scratched motifs depict the history of the place, part of which is the wood itself.
Light and darkness – of fundamental importance in the film – also play a central role. In the darkness created by multiple layers of drawing and painting Schmidt opens up imaginary, timeless spaces, cinematically

speaking, off-screen spaces that have to be filled by the viewer. Our collective memory of the urban space at night, shaped by individual experiences and cultural influences, comes into play here. The light lines scratched into the wood with a cutting tool set accents of light in contrast to the deep black. Schmidt only occasionally uses colored varnish, which, however, does not claim to be realistic at any point due to the reduced color scheme. Her works go beyond depicting real places; this can be felt immediately. In the synthesis of organic structures and graphic elements, of material and motif, Schmidt creates places of superimposed memories in which real and imaginary spaces are nested and merge with a dream-like subtlety. Places that melancholy tell of a bygone era. Their original function is irrelevant to the intensity of the motifs. The mystery inherent in these derelict sites is only heightened. And yet their abandoned, deserted urban landscapes do not appear as bleak symbols of decay. Rather, they only reveal the elegance and beauty of these places at night, showing their hidden life beyond people.

For the artist, this realization also leads to a reflection on her own existence. In this regard, Schmidt is reminiscent of the figure of a flâneur at night who pursues his love for the quiet city. At the same time, this love of Schmidt's »Urban Scapes«, as it describes the urban landscapes themselves, moves into the context of urban art.

Nevertheless, Schmidt's works point beyond the broad mass of urban art. In their quiet, consciously withdrawn manner, they emphasize an individual moment much more strongly. It is not about a loud, broad outcry to recapture the streets in the fight against the hegemonic codes of advertising. She is looking for her retreat and the memories attached to it in the middle of the big city, a perspective that may seem almost paradoxical. And it is precisely these lonely memories that seem to crackle with atmosphere that are so close in their clear consistency. “It's not about understanding something, it's about experiencing something,” says David Lynch.

Ricarda Bross