THE WESTERN AUSTRALIAN, BERLINER TAPS INNER ENERGY, MARC SCHMITZ AT CONCERT HALL PERTH"We don't need meaning, the world is full of it," says visiting Berlin-based artist Marc Schmitz.
"What we need is clearness of thinking."
Schmitz is exhibiting in Perth for the World Visual Arts Series, an adjunct to the World Orchestra Series which brought the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra to the Perth Concert Hall this month.
The much-travelled German artist was keen to visit Perth after a New Zealand-born acquaintance in
Mongolia told him it was perfect, like California in the 1960s, with wide streets and beautiful people. "And it is really like it," he says. "People are friendly and seem to have a wealthy life. It's perfect."
We met in the air-conditioned cocoon of the concert hall with the expanse of the baking city lying before us. Coming direct from the looming winter in Berlin a week earlier, Schmitz seems unfazed by the drastic change in temperature, even revelling in the warmth. It's what you would expect from an artist who travels the world from Europe to Brazil, New York to Shanghai and countries in between.
"It takes lots of energy, all this travelling, and it doesn't make you rich, but rich from experience," he says. "I like to go places which are not really on the highway of art, and large installations are not the type of thing you can do with ordinary galleries. For some years I have been concentrating on land art. I think it's a very contemporary thing.
"When you leave the gallery space, you also leave the protection of the space. You are really going back to roots, when artists went outside to do Impressionist paintings.
"We go outside now to question what art is about, far from the metropolis. I've created work in the Gobi Desert, along with 26 artists from 12 countries.
There was, of course, no audience and none required, with photographs of the works shown in a gallery later."
Though his output is mostly installations, for the past 20 years Schmitz has continued to paint abstract works because he says it brings him back to earth, to the basics.
"I'm not interested so much in images; it's about layers and blurs, and a feeling recalling a moment."
Schmitz studied philosophy at the University of Hanover, art at the Fine Art Academy in Munich and multimedia at the New Media Academy, Berlin, citing the colour-field painters of the 1960s, with works such as Homage to the Square by German-born American artist
Josef Albers in 1965, as his inspiration.
"These artists were making a statement, a very strong statement, with just one colour, and that's it. So it was not very sensitive, but provocative," he said. What I do perhaps looks similar, but it's really absolutely different because I try to condense energy.
"If I need an image I can switch on the TV. These works are like doors, like skins to enter something not dependent on meaning, words or images."
Marc Schmitz: World Visual Arts Series, curated by Ainslie Gatt, is a part of the Goethe Institute's Berlin Dayz cultural festival and is on show at the Perth Concert Hall until January 5th 2011.