What Dreams May Come
Heino Schmid presents his new collection of work.
“To sleep, perchance to dream—ay, there’s the rub,” bemoans Shakespeare’s Hamlet in a soliloquy at the height of his mental and emotional anguish in the play.
Though Hamlet here is concerned with death, the same can be thought of about our nightly exits into our subconscious. Just as there may be no peace after death, there may be no peace in sleep—or perhaps peace for only a short while, for our lives with all of their imperfections exist when we wake again.
In Heino Schmid’s new collection of work, “we’re all innocent when we dream”, which will open to the public Friday night at the Cube West Gallery, this duality between asleep and awake, peace and tension and right and wrong comes to the surface.
“I always liked the phrase and I decided to call the show that before I decided on any of the work,” explains Schmid. “I thought the title would give me a door to kind of walk through.”
“When you think of the phrase, there’s a way of flipping it: When we’re awake, we could be guilty—that there’s a certain guilt to being awake,” he continues. “So there’s this great double quality to the text which I thought was interesting.”
Indeed, Schmid’s work approaches this duality through both image and text, probing beneath a seemingly placid surface. In the relatively cozy gallery space of Cube West, he hopes to present a variety of emotional landscapes for viewers to bring their own preoccupations.
On the walls sit large bodies of text that at times command, at times comfort, and at times defend. The ubiquitous phrase “The devil made me do it” is deconstructed and reconstructed again, bringing forth a mantra of self-absolvency. What was done is never stated—it is not really important, for this admission of guilt sets a tone here that is further explored in his visual work.
“I’ve been thinking a lot about text and the power of the way text can be almost visual and the disparity between the juxtaposition of words,” Schmid says.
“I want a visual duplicity in the way that you can scope out the exhibition and take it in as a whole but somehow make the work engaging enough for people to also go in and really participate on an individual level with the work.”
The centerpiece of his visual works, mainly due to their sheer size, are charcoal drawings on paper of two reclined figures suspended or floating in a white space. Another pair of drawings on a smaller scale examine them again from a different angle.
Though incorporating a significant amount of negative space, especially between the hovering figures, these pieces are indeed quite alive, as erasures and previous smudges create a subtle layering of disquiet. Such movement seemingly below the surface imbues the figures with a tension that belies their peaceful states.
“I’ve always really been attracted to the figure. I enjoy the tension of the body,” Schmid explains. “One of my favorite classes to teach at the College of The Bahamas is figure drawing. It always hammers the point home for me that the body is riddled with all of these subtle tensions, and I enjoy that as a metaphor for lots of other things.”
Indeed, these slumbering figures are only the dreamy surface, which taps into the inherent peacefulness of the title and that desired respite from daily life.
On the other hand, Schmid presents a series of small-scale collages cobbled together from his drawings, magazines and newspapers, presenting a mash-up of somewhat jarring images that stand in complete opposition to the scale of negative space explored in his charcoal drawings.
Such collages, by their very scale compared to his figures, seem to offer a glimpse—of actual dreams, of daily events, of past events, of desires, of fears, of hopes, again, perhaps we’ll never really know—into that exchange between innocence and guilt to which the viewer can make their own judgments.
“Collages I always find interesting, the juxtaposition of those kinds of elements create avenues for a narrative,” says Schmid. “I want these collages to come together and be a little more aggressive and counter that sense of innocence.”
Indeed, in this new body of work, guilt is not what lies beneath the thin surface of innocence but rather what squirms and shouts and beckons and then reveals itself. Is it in our dreams? Or is it our daily life that gives us pause when we have shuffled off that coil of slumber once more?
“We’re all innocent when we dream” opens this Friday, November 11 from 6 – 9 p.m. at The Cube West Gallery in Old Fort Bay. For more information, visit www.thecubewest.com, or call 362-4702.
The Nassau Guardian
Arts & Culture
Published: November 07, 2011