Painting isn’t dead. In an art market dominated by post-craft concerns and conceptual conceits, plenty of folks still pick up palettes loaded with pigment.
Some of them are downright decent at engaging the canvas or drawing board. But in a state steeped in fine art cred, there are more than a few who are great. The work of Eliza M. Schmid serves as a vibrant reminder that two-dimensional art continues to thrive in New Mexico. Schmid’s latest exhibition, Experimental Abstracts, opened at the start of September and continues through Sunday, Sept. 28, at the Factory on 5th Art Space (1715 Fifth Street NW).
Schmid’s imagery is grounded in her experience as a psychoanalyst, psychiatrist and pathologist. Informed by Surrealism, Expressionism and the Vienna School of Fantastic Realism—known for combining the realistic techniques of the old European masters with esoteric religious imagery—the work in her new show ranges from meticulous and painterly to broad and gestural. In each case she demonstrates a command of media ranging from oil to collage to charcoal.
With a background in the medical arts, Schmid often refers to organic and anatomical forms. These forms are rendered in abstract; they serve as symbols and diagrams illustrating the human condition.
Earlier this summer at Tortuga, Schmid’s show was centered on the aesthetics of narrative and representation. In the earlier exhibit, she was primarily concerned with recognizable but subtly altered versions of reality. Her latest expedition describes the process and interior landscape of the artist. The new images come directly from her interaction with her chosen materials. They are the visions of a creative and complex mind let loose upon canvas and paper. This transformation is obvious in works like “Experimental Abstract I,” a piece in mixed media and collage on canvas done in 2012.
The journey from charming magical realism to intensely focused abstraction is one Schmid took on boldly and with aplomb. The work on display at Factory on 5th is alive with color and content. Engaging and thought-provoking, Experimental Abstracts proves a sure sign of the vitality to be found in this state’s art community. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Friday from 10am to 2pm (and till 4pm by appointment) and Sunday from 11:30am to 1:30pm.