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from "Money Funnel", 2004


Armin Schäfer

Events in Colour: Claudia Shneider


What emerges when Claudia Shneider draws or paints on paper or canvas could be called a drawing or painting. Or one could call it figuration or abstraction and differentiate bright from non-bright colours, lines from surfaces, the covered painting and drawing
ground from the un-worked surface. It is clear to see, however, that such divisions would
remain external to the works. Shneider changes the type of paint from work to work, and switches from painting to drawing and vice-versa. A series of markings and coloured lines usually produces something like a figuration, but the figures one thinks one sees dissolve again into lines and markings: where there was abstract painting an instant ago, there is
now a basket or an island or an insect, and where there was a kind of set of teeth, there is now a green, abstract painting.

In many works Shneider makes the motif available. It sits on a surface, which is not
a neutral, un-worked background, not even in places where it is not covered by paint, but rather incorporated in the composition, as though the white was painted just like the motif. In the motif, in turn, paint, colour and figuration are torn apart. And all of this is drawn and painted in a way that creates a link between colours and forms that is divorced from rules, that imposes language on the colours: while the adjectival use of the name of a colour
invariably remains closely tied to formal aspects, and while the colour is ultimately reduced to the function of colouring a form, the name of the colour, which has wrestled itself from its adjectival use to become autonomous, designates only itself. Although in language colours are subject to conventions, meanings, and codes, Shneider hardly adheres to such specifications, but rather lets loose connections between seeing and saying emerge: thus a chair is perhaps red, a granny blue, and a bite green. Moreover, her works bear titles that do not guide the viewer so much as provide him or her with puzzles. Precisely because the titles seem to clearly describe what is seen, the relationship between seeing and saying becomes confused. Shneider’s works do not present figures so much as their attributes, qualities,
and possibilities, and the titles serve the purpose of giving what is painted an event-like
character. The titles are always extremely precise: even when they name something, they do not simply designate what one sees; not even when a work on paper is called Basket,
a red basket cannot be seen, but rather the red without the basket or, to be more precise,
a basket-like red that is by no means a random and unformed collection of lines.

Shneider’s titles, which are like names, do not reiterate the motif in language.
Instead of stitching the motif to a designation, they weave together seeing and saying and betray the viewer: these drawings and paintings, which can be called abstract or figurative, are chock full of events. Thus, a title such as Bite does not decipher a figure or object,
but rather points to something eventful: the picture could bite. Such titles produce
unforeseeable connections between colours and events: perhaps that which one sees will
actually happen in the next moment. The Money Funnel is not an apparatus into which
one inserts money but a machine for producing events in painting.