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from catalogue "Money Funnel", 2004

Andreas Strobl

Can a Paintbrush Think?

In a seemingly carefree manner, the brush strays over the paper
like a somnambulist, leaving traces. Can the world be portrayed in this way?
Many of Claudia Shneider’s drawings look like the brush initially sought
the way on its own, as though lines emerged that were only supplemented
by additional lines and structures, in order to depict something, after they
were subjected to the artist’s control. Despite the reduced nature of
this procedure, the application of paint yields a picture. At times it is
thin, similar to an aquarelle; at times it is covering or painted with a dry
brush, producing thick surfaces and broken-up surfaces. Although Shneider
rarely works with several colours in her works on paper, the different
effects of the colour are astounding given the range of brushwork. And
although many pictures look like they were begun randomly, the artist sets
her works on paper with a clear idea of the whole, cutting them or filling
out the sheets. As a result, these drawings acquire a fragile spontaneity
time and time again.

The eye does not see how the brush paints something. Shneider’s
drawings pretend, based on their titles, to depict something in the
traditional sense. This can lead to surprises, because although she paints
nameable things, she also paints things to which she herself gives a name.
A packaging box can be clearly recognized as such. It has been reduced to its
outlines and strokes fill the paper. An island with a road in a black sea is
clearly recognizable when one is told what the title is, that one should
read the isolated form as an island and the line jutting in as a road. But
what is an Aubergine City? One can see a few vertical eggplants if one knows
the title, but if not, the silhouette is reminiscent of a skyline that could
have been invented by an architect along the lines of Hermann Finsterlin.
And who has ever seen 2 Anthill Fountains? Do black ants crawl there like a
cascade? But the information Unkraut des Unwissens (Weeds of Ignorance)
is calmingly precise in reference to a wing-like being.

In addition to the graphic appeal and the painterly nonchalance, it is
this uncertainty that always trips me up when I’m confronted with Shneider’s
works. The strange impression (so as not to use the word puzzling) anchors the
pictures in memory. And that entices one to come back again and have another
look to try and discover the secret. Or to simply follow the at once elegant and
un-steered traces of the brush. For it is actually only these traces we see
on the sheet: art.