Janknegt Gallery kicked off the gallery season last Saturday with Julia Schewalie's first solo exhibition in the Netherlands. High time for an introduction to the German artist who is making her way with reflective monochrome black works. “Ultimately, I'm not looking for new materials, but for new reflections”.
Julia Schewalie, Lead, 2021, Janknegt Gallery.
Gallerist Justine de Klerk first saw Julia Schewalie's work when she visited Munich a few years ago. De Klerk was sold there and then: “I happened to be in Munich and visited the Atelierhaus am Domagk Park. It contains 101 studios. Julia's work immediately grabbed my attention, and I first bought a work of hers privately. Julia’s work is so innovative. I have been showing her work for 2 years now. The first time was at the PAN in 2019, but Shifting Monochrome is Julia's first solo at Janknegt”.
Julia Schewalie (1988) studied painting and sculpture at Munich’s Akademie der bildenden Künste. Since her graduation in 2015, her work has been regularly exhibited in Germany and abroad. Two of her works were acquired the Bavarian State Collection.
Face to face with a work by Julia Schewalie, the amount of craftsmanship and attention to detail immediately catches the eye. For her larger geometric patterns, she uses hundreds, if not thousands, of custom-made pieces of black material. Materials that reflect, such as vinyl records or computer discs in Disk Black. She sorts, arranges and cuts them until they are almost unrecognizable and do not recall their original function.
Julia Schewalie, Disk_black, 2021, Janknegt Gallery
“In this way, the material sometimes appears hard, sometimes soft, without betraying its actual state”. According to De Klerk, this laborious method also has a different effect: “Standing and especially in motion, her works seduce the viewer to participate in an interplay of construction and deconstruction. Changing reflections and reflections on the surface are always part of her work. Each work captures the space, including natural and artificial light, in a unique way. The works are constantly changing and therefore have no fixed status.”
Although Schewalie constantly uses different materials for her work – until now she has used graphite, vinyl, monocrystaline solar cells and lead carpenter's sticks – she says that she is not primarily looking for new materials. “Ultimately, I'm not looking for new materials, but for new reflections. I usually find those reflections in the light in nature, the place where fleetingness and transience dominates. Then I look for material which enables that reflection”.
Julia Schewalie, Lead_flat, 2021, Janknegt Gallery
Given the similarities in the outward appearance, it is not surprising that Schewalie names the seminal Zero artist Heinz Mack and the minimalism of Carl Andre as sources of inspiration. She also mentions the mirror works of Anish Kapoor, the spatial fog installations of Ólafur Elíasson and the relief-like paintings of Pierre Soulages; each and every one of them artists who play with light and space.
Thematically, Schewalie feels akin to early Christian art, especially Byzantine art and icons. Art that should evoke moments of contemplation. Schewalie also hopes to portray the ephemeral and intangible with her monochrome works. “The reflection of light on the monochrome surfaces, is intended to create a contemplative mood. I want the viewer to lose himself in this mood for a short instant and then become aware of the fleetingness of the moment.”.
Julia Schewalie, Charred Wood, 2020, Janknegt Gallery
Shifting Monochrome by Julia Schewalie is on display through 6 November at Janknegt Gallery in Laren.