Andreas Schmid: Präzision und Offenheit

Drawing with spaces

“Concerning my approach, I would first like to report of various experiences that led to a formation of the premises for my notion of ‘drawing in space’…
During my years in the People’s Republic of China from 1983 to 1986, I studied the nature of the line, for example in classical Chinese calligraphy and the history of calligraphy. The relationship between black and white within a single character as well as the relationship of characters to one another, both graphic and spatial, was the object of my study. But equally important was working through the mental tension in drawing the line. The lines of each individual character act in space, the character itself creates space, just as the sequence of characters within the whole process. Our own thinking is transferred indelibly and directly to the paper.
At the same time, writing develops a rhythm of its own. The whole sheet has—by way of writing—a form and a link to content. Furthermore, a dramaturgy develops, a score of writing. This position goes far beyond the mere writing of a text and is clearly an artistic act. Fascinating for me is a statement, confirmed by practice, that was made by the calligrapher Wang Dongling in November 1983, that the calligrapher can hear the speed with which the brush needs to be moved (“You will hear how fast you need to write.”). Besides technique, a feeling for the precision of the placement on the sheet and in space develops. These experiences find their application in my spatial works in the European context.
Alongside Chinese calligraphy, my experiences with wide expanses of landscape have shaped my work. Journeys through the expansive landscapes of Northwestern China or the American West, especially through steppes and deserts, gave me the experience of transparency, extension, and size, and at the same time made clear one’s own relativity. The tiniest geographical or color differences can change the whole character of the landscape, even if these changes only stretch very slowly across large spaces. Some landscapes exhibit strong values of approach in terms of drawing or the graphic arts. The desert regions of China, the US, Peru, or Egypt showed me that it is possible to decisively structure a “large” space with relatively minimal, yet precise interventions.

In contemporary music as well, I find approaches that illustrate similarities and affinities to components of thinking in terms of drawing. Non-linear composition, working with fragments and composition particles that are superimposed to form highly complex shapes, are quite compatible approaches that enrich and expand my own ways of working. These include the works of Brian Ferneyhough and Isabel Mundry as well as the various approaches of John Cage or Luigi Nono on including rests or silence in composition, or the opening of the musical scale to quartertones or everyday sounds. Fascinating for me is the freedom of possibilities just as the deep cultural ethos in Nono, his fanning out into dynamic and tonal border realms opens new spaces. The “slowness” of Morton Feldman, or experience of listening to Lachenmann, who explodes conventional form, should also be mentioned here.

As far as my work in interior and exterior spaces is concerned, I begin with the following: neither do I place a prefabricated work nor an idea coming from outside. I take no position, make no claim. For me, the decisive requirements for working on a space are listening to and grasping its characteristics. With few graphic means, the work is structured in the space. The materials of the work’s graphic components are very different: they stretch from the plasticity of a ship cords to cuttings or light traces. The interventions allow the characteristics present in a space to surface, without dominating them: instead, the character of a space is completed and additionally expanded and made to resonate. Various modes of thought and interpretation are open to the beholder
The works are transparent and precise. It is almost as if the new had already existed beforehand. At the same time, some works undergo, through the conscious inclusion of natural light, a change of expression in time. They are fulfilled only with the actions of the beholder in time.”

Andreas Schmid

From “Präzision und Offenheit- Mit Räumen zeichnen,” /#Minimal/Concept:
Zeichenhafte Sprachen im Raum#/ (Dresden: Verlag der Kunst 2001), pp. 87–94.