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Realist artist and urban planning architect Ana Schmidt became the tenth winner of The Columbia Threadneedle Prize for Figurative Art Today in February 2018, receiving £20,000 and an exhibition at Mall Galleries.
Schmidt’s solo show this September, City of Shards, showcases new paintings on the artist’s signature theme: urban landscapes, often on the edge of cities.
Schmidt was born in Germany in 1959 and grew up in Saigon, Bangkok and Barcelona. Currently based in Bilbao, Schmidt works as an architect as well as a painter.
The artist’s new paintings convey ‘non-places’ from what Schmidt calls “human height” to capture their crumbling pavements, broken walls and graffiti, and from high up, atop viewing platforms, making the viewer a distant observer. In both cases, the places Schmidt depicts are part real, part invented.
In Bad Seeds, Schmidt focuses on a puddle and the weeds growing on a wall she found at the site, but through the process of painting, changed colours, removed people, and added new graffiti. “It’s a very realistic, detailed representation,” says Schmidt, “but it’s not really real”. The same is true of the artist’s views from afar. In the case of the panoramic painting, City Shards, Schmidt superimposed pieces of images and transparencies onto the picture to create a ‘mental landscape’.
These embellishments and ‘unreal developments’ create a conceptual layer to the paintings, which become more than landscapes, with each acting as an allegory of the fragility of places.
Every painting, besides being expertly executed and beguiling to behold, illustrates the artist’s point that cities are environments that multiply or move, territories that are redeveloped or removed. “You can lose people,” says Schmidt, “but you can also lose places.”
Supported by Columbia Threadneedle Investments, sponsors of The Columbia Threadneedle Prize