Bastienne Schmidt’s art is about relationships. Relationships between space, time, color, shape, gender and even invisible things like a sense of country and the borders that separate us. She works equally between photography, painting and weavings but the common theme is “a quest for a sense of identity and place… I always felt that people want to pin you down to one place and… I’ve tried to find different ways to communicate the sense of creating my own sense of mappings and plans that is not really connected to just one cultural thing.”
Schmidt is interested in how we leave our fingerprints on the world and how our objects can be recycled (as well as our lives). The works are like fossils in that items are impressed upon the painting to create a color field interrupted by fragile patterns and shapes. The resulting work becomes almost a meditation on scale. “By changing the scale of reference you see things up close that are very far away. But you understand they are being held together by the very same principles.” It becomes a “reimagining of the concepts of space.”
Her palette reflects her upbringing in Greece. The myriad shades of white, grey and blue make the works feel fresh and accessible. Even when they are large in scale they are not threatening, welcoming the viewer to step inside. “The sparsity is more fulfilling, it leaves the gaps you can project something into.”
The works themselves are rejecting the common denominators of identity. Schmidt is abolishing the sense of “place versus displace- ment” and celebrating the victory of personal choice. She is erasing the invisible lines that confine individuality through narrow definitions and is making metaphors. Open fields where a voice can be clear whether or not it is loud.
Bastienne Schmidt’s work is part of the Selfies and Portraits of the East End show at Guild Hall in East Hampton. On view now through July 26. See more at bastienneschmidt.com.