What is the best thing that I love about my work?
The best thing is that life suddenly makes kind of sense, without the need to put a name to it, and that the weight of time passing falls away. Or seems to, anyway.
What is my idea of perfect happiness?
The idea of perfect happiness is quite scary, I think. Happiness implies the end of the search, the end of the attempt to fill a void. If you don’t feel the lack of something, why should you try to make up for it? Creation only becomes possible (and necessary) when there is unrest and longing.
What is my greatest fear?
Death, I guess. Not my own though. but death as such. That everything should be subject to the principle of loss. Although without this principle any effort would seem futile, too. As Beckett names it: “the double-headed monster of damnation and salvation: time:”
On a more intimate level illness of those close to me.
What is the trait I most deplore in myself?
The difficulty of being fully present in the company of people, and a certain tendency to feel too responsible for things in general. My reluctance to let go.
Which living person in my profession do I most admire?
I have always admired Frank Auerbach, for his absolute dedication to painting, but I have given up on seeing him as a role to follow.
More recently the British painter Lynette Yiadom Boakye, for the complex simplicity of her work.
What is my greatest extravagance?
Taking my shoes off when I stretch canvases. Anything more severe you’d probably have to ask others…
On what occasion would I lie?
Whenever the sense of shame gets the better of me. But I’m a bad liar, so it doesn’t help much.
What is the thing I most dislike in my work?
The inevitable moment when I am perfectly aware of ruining a piece but cannot stop spiraling towards the loss of what was a promise just a moment ago. But with time I have to come to accept this as just another necessary element of the process of painting. You learn from your failures.
When and where was I happiest in my work?
On those rare occasions when I see and feel a painting coming up and taking form. The moment I am aware that I am in unknown territory, that something unexpected is expressing itself through me. A sense of relief and gratitude, of having found something I didn’t even know I was looking for.
If I could what would I change about myself?
A little less self control, letting myself go a little more. Be sillier, a bit more madness.
What is my greatest achievement in my work?
Hopefully to reach here and there the depth of a true emotion as expressed through a face or a body. Something that could exist alongside the great paintings that left me speechless when I came across them.
Where would I most like to live?
I am not sure. Maybe in a moment of time and not a particular place.
What is my most treasured possession?
Probably the sketchbooks that I’ve filled over the years with drawings of my children and my wife.
What is my most marked characteristic?
Probably my reliability and my positiveness when things need to get done.
What is my most inspirational location, in my city?
Again it’s more about moments and people than places, but the sea, its colours and its horizon line never fails to restore my vision.
What is my favourite place to eat and drink, in my city?
Our kitchen when I cook for my family. My favourite place to drink, too, while I cook, mind you, not while I eat.
What books influenced my life and how?
Proust’s “À la Recherche du Temps Perdu”, because it helped me to get over my first and solitary year of studying Fine Arts in Edinburgh. “The First Man” by Albert Camus, and all Camus that followed. “Watership Down” by Richard Adams which I read many times when I was young, it made me travel to England for the first time on my own.
Who are my favorite writers?
Camus and Beckett, I guess. But I always have a book in my bag, there’s always recent finds that add sense to my life, the last outstanding one being “On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous” by Ocean Vuong, beautiful and absorbing. Oh, and I have to metion the Japanese, above all Kawabata and Inoué.
You Only Die Once. What music would I listen to on my last day?
My daughter playing the piano, no matter what.
Who is my hero or heroine in fiction?
Commissaire Adamsberg in Fred Vargas’ novels. Any part played by Buster Keaton in his films.
Who are my heros and heroines in real life?
Common people with a genuine decency acting in a humane way, with empathy instead of dogmas. If there were more people like that, the earth would be a better place and in a better shape.
Which movie would I recpommend to see at least once in a lifetime?
“Incendies” by Denis Villeneuve.
What role plays art in my life and work?
It’s definitely one of the cornerstones of my life, it’s the bridge I need to connect with what surrounds me. I need art to believe in life, and viceversa.
Whom would I like to work with in 2019/2020?
I repeat this year working with Basque dancer Helena Lizari; who knows where that will lead… Apart from that I’d like to work on a sketchbook during rehearsals of my favourite contemporary dance company, “Mal Pelo”. Chances are it may actually happen.
And then there’s a Chinese dancer, Li Kehua, whose solos have inspired a recent body of work. It would be great to meet and collaborate.
Which people in my profession would I love to meet in 2019/2020?
Out of the blue I’d say British painters Lynette Viadom Boakye and Hurvin Anderson, both whose work deeply intrigues me.
What project, in 2019/2020, am I looking forward to work on?
I hope to continue “Figura”, an open project of investigating drawing and dance, with the Dancer Magdalena Garzón. And in May I’ll take part in the third edition the Ramsfjordkunstkollektiv, in Oslo.
Where can you see my work in 2019/2020?
Until mid November you can see a selection of my paintings and drawings at the Honfleur Gallery in Washington DC; some of them will go subsequently to SCOPE Art Fair in Miami.
Opening in late November there is a two-artist show alongside Spanish painter Bea Sarries at Margtin’s Atelier in Brussels.
In 2020 there will be a show at Ramfjord Gallery in Oslo and probably at some point one at my gallery in Paris, Galerie Arcturus.
What do the words “Passion Never Retires” mean to me?
I must say I slightly shy away from the notion. Passion has given way to a kind of astonishment in the face of life, an excitement that is mingled with empathy and thereby puts my own passion aside. There is a intriguing notion in Japan, “Kokoro”, the heart that thinks, and maybe that comes close to it. The complementing part would be a brain that feels. Both concepts get us close to Pessoa.
Which creative heroes should Peter invite to tell their story?
There’s so many out there who struggle and insist in doing their thing. But I would want to contact them first and explain the project.
How can you contact me?
Through my website www.gabrielschmitz.art, or on Instagram, @gabrielschmitz.art