SWISS INSTITUTE: Jean-Frédéric Schnyder

Jean-Frédéric Schnyder is no joke. ...wait, I mean, perhaps there is something comical about the paintings he has made. Actually, I think he falls right in that space between kitsch and poignancy. I checked out his latest show at the Swiss Institute last week and there was much to be seen and thought. 

What first struck me about this show was the amount of space that this show had.  I almost laughed when I saw all of these teeny tiny paintings in this gigantic room! It was great though that all the paintings had plenty of room to um, "breathe." Ha.

These paintings have that kitsch element that I mentioned. Here, let's paint some flowers growing out of the bottom of the painting. Pretty courageous and silly in the same work, I appreciate it. There was a house in just about every painting. 

Oh and here are some swastikas. Mmm Hmm...  Here's a quote from the artist regarding this. "I do not care which associations my paintings provoke. Swastika, crucifix and sugar cubes are just motives which are interesting to paint. To apply color - this is what painting is about, right? - is for me the common thread." Just. motives. which. are. interesting. to. paint. Um, it's funny how you can't get away with saying things like that in art school. OH WELL!   Schnyder is not in art school, and anyway, I love that he said painting is about applying color. I would agree, yes, but there are so many more things painting is about!

These two are my favorite. Okay, upside down house with pink and purple trees. I like this. Oh and here are some daisies floating about some pretty clouds. Very sincere, kitsch, and pretty, um, happy.

This painting was hilarious to me. Okay, painting houses, let me paint a three dimensional house on this painting. I love how you can see how Schnyder tried so many different ways to paint this trope! Field of grass, miniature house. Done.


To be honest, I really loved this show, but I do think Schnyder downplays the relevancy of a lot of his images. I mean, these two especially I found to be very heavy with meaning. Is Schnyder's portrayal of swastikas encouraging a positive response to them, because his work is so likeable, is it helping us to be okay with these images? Is it giving power to the swastika?  OR, because his work is so kitsch and silly at points, are his paintings working to take power away from this symbol? I don't know, but I like to give the benefit of the doubt, perhaps these works are making the swastika less serious, I can't really say.  I do think that the use of symbols like these should be taken and used in a thoughtful manner, and I wish there was a little bit more information about his use of symbols, and how the artist would like the symbols to be interpreted. Great show none. the. less.

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