Andreas Schmitten’s shiny colorful sculptures and staged theatrical narratives and models caress the senses, tempt and entice the viewer, imparting a playful impetus while still remaining indeterminate regards its own character. The relationship of the artificial surfaces to the stylized forms, derived from everyday objects, appears both appropriate and irreconcilable at the same time. A conceptual gap opens up at this formal breaking point that is filled with questions concerning identity, the supposedly real and the universal. With the site-specific piece Fragile Konstruktion, Haus Lange and the objects by Andreas Schmitten in the front yard create a theatrical situation. Ludwig Mies van der Rohe designed the architecture and the garden in his own idiosyncratic New Objectivity style of the late nineteen twenties. Garden furniture—a sunshade, chairs, a slide, a table and awning—stand or lay strewn about in front of the house. These accessories of a summery Mediterranean idyll have clearly seen better days. Everything looks shabby, curiously surreal, deformed and battered.
Although a sweet colorfulness outshines the furniture, the place seems abandoned. The furnishings have the quality of a simulated readymade that lends a legible past to the timelessness of the iconic architecture. Building and artworks directly relate to each other, form a narrative about timelessness and transience, about the real and the artificial. Schmitten consequently turns the cultural space here into an integral part of his work. Upon first glance, the scene seems to concern an accessible private front yard. Only upon closer examination, however, and perhaps with a side glance at the equally curious toothbrush in the neighboring front yard, does the involuntary viewer realize that it involves a public space, a museum. Indeterminacy prevails here as well. We are confronted with a private house on a large parcel of land, located in a well-established bourgeois urban residential district as an accessible public place. The scene likewise references the house’s function. It seems entirely natural today that one can occupy him or herself with art and culture here at this place and in this section of town. Things would be different in the center of town or in socially marginalized parts of the city where art in the public space is often felt to be unwanted, annoying or uninteresting. The residential area where Haus Lange and Haus Esters are located stands for a culturally open-minded citizenry. However, in the face of the battered and abandoned front yard scenario, the notion of an intact educated middle class increasingly appears to be an illusion.
Andreas Schmitten (born 1980 Mönchengladbach, Germany) first studied philosophy at the Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf from 2001 to 2006 before transferring to the Art Academy Düsseldorf. He completed his studies there with Georg Herold in 2012. In 2014, he had a DAAD Artist Fellowship for Los Angeles. The artist lives and works in Neuss.