A wonderful way to bring after the Chinese New Year is with a visit to “Dimensions of Self” - The young collectors' art works exhibition on at The Art House in Hangzhou. This exhibition delivers a stunning collection of Egon Schiele’s works that will inspire all art lovers and collectors – it is open from the 17thFebruaryto 28th April and I highly recommend visiting with your family and friends for an educational and noteworthy experience.
Schiele was an avid drawer, creating over 3000 drawings in his short life and brief career, he produced what is considered to be some of the finest drawings of the 20th century. Schiele regarded drawing as his primary art form and his legacy has influenced generations of artists and intrigued millions of people and no doubt will continue to do so for eternity.
Egon Schiele was born in Austria in 1890 to a modest working-class family, he had three sisters who would often sit for him and are seen in many of his works. He studied art in primary school where his teacher noticed his natural ability and encouraged him to continue his drawing. At the age of 16 and after the death of his father Schiele moved to Vienna to continue his studies in art, Schiele felt frustrated at the ultra-conservative academy he was studying at, dissatisfied he left after 3 years taking some of his fellow students with him and founded the Neukunstgruppe (New Art Group).
When he was a young man still emerging within his field - Egon Schiele was mentored by Gustav Klimt, who regularly invested his time in up and coming young artists, Schiele’s early works are strongly influenced by Klimt’s style between 1907 -1909 and this can be seen in the work he produced during this period - he began to move forward in to his own distinctive style thereafter, where he cemented his place in history as a world renowned and an established leader of the Austrian Expressionist movement. Schiele remained firm friends with Klimt until Klimt’s death in February 1918, sadly Egon was to follow his friend to the grave, passing 8 months later.
Schiele’s work typically explores the human body, its raw sexuality and deep seated psyche in an unconventional sort of defiance – often depicting women, children and even himself via the use of contorted and various accumulation of line and heavy figurative distortions; complex works that are highly expressionistic, loaded with energy, fluidity and unique in perspective - Schiele was a master of manipulating perspective, his technique of foreshortening limbs and working with difficult perspectives enabled distorted images which were technically proportioned - allowing the figures to appear twisted, gaunt and uncomfortable in their pose - adding a certain element of emotion, fragility and vulnerability to the human form. Schiele’s use of line draws the eye in and skilfully moves it around the composition, allowing the eye to settle on particular details, necessary in conveying the message Schiele aimed to deliver. Schiele uses multiple applications of line, shifting stability and energy. His decision to often leave the background bare - allowing large negative spaces - enabling the subject further magnitude in its isolation, this along with the use of a sombre pallet increasing the psychological charge of the work.
Amongst these works on exhibition you will also find some of Schiele’s non- figurative subjects, many of these works were produced whilst Schiele was conscripted to the Austrian military; being posted to a POW camp where he was tasked office duties, Schiele was permitted to continue his drawing and painting and therefore still prolific during this period of time – producing a large number of works consisting mostly of what he saw around him at the time, landscapes and cityscapes.
Egon Schiele once said, “I believe in the immortality of all creatures”, through his work he has enabled just this; beings that live on forever, existing in time and speaking for the artist beyond the grave.
Viewing this exhibition, “Dimensions of Self”and witnessing the distinct nature and talent of Egon Schiele (who was merely 28 years old at his death) is a gift, a bequest handed down to the world that continually provides for us all.