THE MYSTICAL WORLD OF LOLA MONTES SCHNABEL: ART AS FREEDOM OF IMAGINATION, MEDITATION AND CONNECTION
Have a good day
But not just today:
All the days that come around today ~
Yesterday, today, and tomorrow
Have them all
Have a Good Day, by Rene Ricard for Lola Montes Schnabel – March 9, 2011
ON ART, LIFE AND LOLA MONTES SCHNABEL
Who is Lola Montes Schnabel? Some of you may know her as an artist as well as a filmmaker, yet that is all. Therefore, I ask again, who is Lola Montes Schnabel?
The answer is none and all the above. In other words, an enigma, a true Renaissance woman of many talents, many roles and many faces, albeit in one. For the true Lola Montes Schnabel is as much a composite as her work; a Gordian Knot that cannot be unloosed by a simple word or phrase.
In order to even begin to get to know her as woman and as an artist, one thus has to let go of any false preconceptions they may have had and open themselves up to an endless realm of possibilities and think of the quest, rather than the answer awaiting in the golden goblet at the fairytale’s end. For much of what you have probably heard is only a fable.
The Lola that I met, however, was incredibly real. By that, I mean as human as you or I: modest, humble, open and honest, not defined or definable by her name or fame. The Lola I met simply is, be that as a woman, an artist or a filmmaker.
To speak with her about art and life was a task simultaneously difficult and easy. Difficult, as there were so many subjects upon which to touch, the discussion leading into new territories unchartered in the mind’s eye. Easy, nonetheless, in the sense that speaking with Lola is like talking to someone you have known for many years.
She somehow seemed to effortlessly break down break down all unnecessary barriers that might hinder the flow of natural conversation. In addition, there is an intuitiveness, sensitivity and awareness to her that makes it impossible for the other to hide behind prevarications and lies and it is exactly so many perhaps fear.
Likewise, it is the same conscientiousness and knowledge that informs her painting. There is an understanding and thus empathy for her fellow human’s suffering and daily life conditions. There is a truth to her work as a filmmaker which, no matter how uncomfortable, as with the artist herself can neither be ignored nor denied.
And therein lies her magic, her mystery: an ancient knowledge of man, of herself and of the world and, more importantly, of her purpose and her place in it.
Therefore, It is not I who interviewed Lola Montes Schnabel, but she who interviewed me. And the result was both as beautiful and fascinating as Lola Montes Schnabel herself.
Like you, I had come with many questions prepared on who Lola Montes Schnabel was as a person and as an artist, the difficulties and pressures she faced, about her motivation, creative inspiration, approach to her work and the legacy she would like to leave behind.
As with all things about Lola however, there is no one answer. Instead, in the asking, one becomes joined together with her in a mutual process of exploration; a dialectic in the manner of Socrates that exposes false beliefs in order to reveal the underlying truths.
Following, in a stream of consciousness, is the artist Lola Montes Schnabel herself on the artist and woman Lola Montes Schnabel.
ON ART AS FREEDOM OF IMAGINATION
For the portraits it starts usually with a character. A soul whom I’ve encountered who sparks my interest could be a child whom I connect too or an elderly person.
I want an intimate experience with the other.
We mirror each other to capture their presence their temperament a directness about the position of the person in front of me the likeness then follows.
By the sea I find a lot of inspiration through the peace it gives me, the vastness the wind.
I can breathe through imagery that floats inside and out of me make believe landscapes that intertwine my passion or state of mind.
To draw is a therapy of recycling information searching for a message. There is a lot of fantasy involved and symbolism from mythology. Color, also, is key.
Thinking in colors.
A certain transparency I want to achieve a shadow or glow, a juxtaposition of two colors to create a third.
A reflection to give off a luminosity to the picture. And then the paintings begin as a series in a specific palette. So it’s a process very similar to that of a musician who has a couple of notes and then ends up playing through the movements of their mind to a result.
The emotions of their time.
Coming out on the other side floating through a plethora of imagery and gestures that add to the surface. My dreams and my unconsciousness guide the performance.
What I make is about freedom as well. Shouting! I’m not afraid to be emotional in my work, to respect my anger.
So there are not only the ideas, but also a lot of feelings I want to get across. Some rage and sweetness. I’ll concentrate on what it is too loose a friend the state of affairs of the world, its suffering and without being political yet using psychic awareness of where the worlds harmony stands today.
I’ll make a picture to express my concern. It is a form of meditation and I paint my impression of that. I want to move people as I seek enlightenment through life and am making art as proof of my research here. I try to bridge this gap between the ancient and objects of this daily life.
About gender and race and age.
So I’m trying to put my life force into drawing with watercolor painting with oil filming with any given camera or sculpting with clay and plaster, using found objects so that the art I make emanates something human, my experience being alive.
ON ART AS A FORM OF MEDITATION
I didn’t know what paganism was until I was fourteen, but I had these pagan rituals even when I was young. I would make small fires in the garden with offerings under the moon talk to the trees and make up songs and stories I could draw before I could speak.
A very primal gesture scratching away at the sand or with a match stick on a napkin.
There are hundreds of drawings from when I was a kid. My father made a special book for me with art random a Japanese publisher when I was seven and I remember when the proof copy arrived at the house flipping through each page astonished that it was real.
All this information was in me, it was just unlocking it. And one reason I have gravitated towards meditation is because it helped me access the paintings I was longing to make!
After having travelled on some of the wilder shores. Every time I sold something, I would buy a plane ticket to go traveling longing for a spiritual awakening through art and nature to experience cultures outside the New York education and world I knew.
From Siwa in Egypt to Italian renaissance to all the Flemish masters to look up close at these great feats.
And take it in.
Yet when one really stills their mind and observes their breath with their eyes closed and spine straight, one understands the images I wanted to paint.
Came through me and I could travel distances.
In one place.
They were all already there.
I realized for the first time that I had been doing this my whole life.
Day dreaming, Lola lala land, space cadet.
People snapping their fingers as I dozed off into outer space to get my attention.
And I simply was not conscious of it.
Now there was a new tool.
To find what I wanted to paint through conscious dreaming and I had been doing it my entire childhood.
All of these things that I make are actually inside of me and I just have to let them come through. So, it’s important to me to set up.
An explosive space so this can happen.
ON ART AS A FORM OF CONNECTION
Painting is always there when I am alone.
It calls to me to get up in the night.
I see paintings coming through me behind my eyelids when I close my eyes since I was a kid or walking down the street eyes wide open.
I can count on it to grow with me.
As would a pianist who practices.
You get better the more you make.
In the same way as a friend who’s always waiting.
It requires devotion.
Because it is a relationship, a conversation yourself and with all paintings that have been made and all yet to be.
Art history is an artists history.
There is a language that takes you to reenact the choices other painters have made, understand and add to this dialogue.
Pick up the wand and branch off from what you have learned into your own.
A deep commitment and longing to follow it through. Setting up an explosive space with your materials and using a brush or your hands to escape this reality into one you pour your heart into.
Paint takes time to dry. It is a messy business.
Each color deserves its own mixing into a consistency you wish to use.
Whipping up a color is a delicious process and one’s care shows.
Film making requires a great deal of verbal communicating. Being resourceful in bringing each moving part together. There is a movement of light, so I make films as well, as poems or portraits.
They are abstract films.
Images strung together to music by composers other artists I admire. That contain a flow.
A moving painting.
That contact other worlds. So you could say that I’m trying to draw what we can’t see all the time in what ever medium I choose.
If I paint someone, it will resemble them. But what I really want to capture is your essence.
I can see things in a person when I really stare at someone, such as what happened to him or her in their past and it’s as if I’m working that out on the paper. Yet, I’m their subject too, so it’s something very intimate.
It’s not technical in any way. I mean, it ends up mirroring the person because I feel what’s going on inside of them.
ON DIMITRIOS ANTONITSIS
I have cried over this graceful king! upon thinking about how rare it is to work with a man so talented and understanding of life and art to find someone who sees your soul, who understands where you’re going and believes in you and then offers the confidence to back you up by presenting the work you make and being able to explain it.
This is all an artist could wish for!
In their interactions!
We have a lot of fun together, such as looking at mundane things and see humor or get ideas together in what’s around.
We’ve got one another’s backs and seem to naturally be very balanced in our way to discern a situation.
When we met, originally we had a brief meeting scheduled he was going to stay for forty-minutes and ended up staying at my kitchen table discussing for a couple of hours.
And when he walked, away I remember thinking I did not know people such as him this still existed in the art world. I was watching him disappear into a dot.
Because he’s also an artist, he gets it. He has a magician-like, wizard quality as well to setting up a space and connecting people
I’ll think of him and he sends me a message. So, we’re in tune with one another. We can have dinner together and not say anything to each other, but still communicate. It’s on a cellular level.
Or be daily side by side with a kind of independence.
To meet Dimitrios was the gift of this year.
I love his work too. You can’t reinvent the wheel, yet there are architectural shapes, like the Jade or Paleolithic axe,and he basically takes these shapes and re-appropriates them for our time because he is open to using all materials.
It is also luminous. It has this shiny aura which makes you want to touch them.
I’ve seen his jewelry and his sculptures that are here and the one little photograph in the villa that I love of a woman’s face over the mirror that you see when you’re laying in bed.
Maya Deren was a big influence on me and on my experimental films. It makes me think of a ghost coming through or magic. You know, it looks so easy, but it’s very difficult to catch on a camera.
You have to be in tune with something bigger. It’s proof, in a way, that there’s something bigger than this.
There are these wonderful accidents in life that were not really accidents, but meant to be. But you have to make it so that you can have an accident instead of controlling your life.
Dimitrios honors that which is unsaid and will speak about in his work his ideal of beauty very proudly.
I also admire the way he takes the time to look at the work of all these young artists, to give them a chance to have a platform. I mean this show is a mosaic of his mind. Every time I left and came back things had changed and become more perfected, it’s alive.
Even yesterday when he came over, I left the room for a moment and when I returned he had taken my scarf and wrapped it around the lamp in such a beautiful way that changed the mood.
When he looks at objects, he sees the air and the light around them giving them breath. Nothing in his home holds dead weight. He keeps a space vibrant.
We walked by the port at night and because of the rain the sea had risen and swept up some garbage and he said “Look at how beautiful those plastic bottles are in the moonlight bobbing their bodies against one another.
It’s also what’s so nice about travelling as an artist because, as does Dimitri, you begin to notice all these little things and the texture of things in another context makes you remember or want to keep a bench mark of it.
My first trip to Hydra was actually this July when Dimitrios invited me to take part in Hydra School Projects and expose my photo diary ‘s and film on Luigi Ontani.
There’s something different to see every time the island unveils itself.
The port is an opera set of enchantment.
When I’m here, I feel as if all of my antennas are open. Every one I think of writes me or calls. People here are also of a very direct nature, and they watch at first they don’t talk much.
I alway want to write a lot here.
The salty air on everything is purifying.
I really had difficulty sleeping on my first I wanted to see and feel everything. So I stayed up until 5:00 am every night and then be up at 7:00. With the orchestra of bells.
I didn’t want to miss an hour of light. I thought, ‘I can sleep when I leave’.
There’s a route to Babylon and Byzantium.
Ancient Greece is under our feet.
And I feel the goddess Athena awaken inside of me. A certain power here of ethics and theosophy. Every day my face became more and more open and my hips a little wider from the delicious cuisine!
ON INTERVIEWS AND EXHIBITIONS
I enjoy talking to people, if the people are truly interested and write what you actually say. This rarely happens for interviews though, I sometimes prefer to write my own answers because I’m good at asking questions and listening too!
A lot of journalists just say stuff they find on-line or preconceived out of laziness. And so it’s happened. That is why I would rather interview myself.
Because even now this takes time and thought and energy and if anyone is going to read this it better have meaning not gossip.
The world is filled with peering into people’s personal lives because no one wants to describe the work or engage in something a little more interesting than what social media has programmed the mind-set of the public.
Also because there are so many questions that never are asked.
About what an artist goes through to continue to make things no matter who is there to receive them.
One must always keep going on there search for beauty.
CURRENT EXHIBITION: TEXTING SPIRITS, 29.11.2016 – 28.01.2017
On Tuesday, November 29, 2016, Ileana Tounta Contemporary Art Center presents Texting Spirits, the first solo show in Greece by American artist Lola Montes Schnabel (New York 1981) curated by artist Dimitrios Antonitsis.
The show will run until 28th January 2017.
The exhibition is an essay on the metaphysics of objects, the aesthetic sense of art, and the rarefaction of sensory perception to the point where art reaches its essential and definitive dimension beyond the visual.
Schnabel presents a series of large-scale paintings, two video projections and a body of watercolor drawings. As the artist states: I’ve always done filmmaking and painting simultaneously; they are connected. Sometimes I’ll make a film to conceive one image that didn’t exist before, then the image becomes a painting. There’s a process to all of this and I’m interested in all the layers – if I hadn’t made that one camera frame then these paintings wouldn’t exist. Every idea deserves a different medium to illustrate it best.
Schnabel’s exhibition is mainly concerned with the study of an unreal and Arcadian nature, where the human figure is rarely present, unless at a level of an archetypical consciousness. Her canvases translate as visions of nature in various moods: on this base she paints elements as the ancient olive trees so ethereal and detached from representation. Like details in some backgrounds in Renaissance paintings, magnified, where the spiritual dominates the narrative.
It is in her films though that the poetry and the purity of her spirit becomes most visible: a man running in a snow landscape in an endless effort to reach a world that perhaps goes beyond the limits of the senses (Rishi Running, 2004). A Dialogue Between Spirit And Nature, 2011 demonstrates her multifarious practice encompassing a variety of disciplines, bringing music (Charlemagne Palestine), sculpture (Luigi Ontani), dance, and theater (masks by Balinese naïve artists) into contact with rituals and liturgies, which Schnabel intuitively orchestrates. Like in hypnotic tunes, where new ways of juxtapositions bring together unconventional and heterogeneous materials into a revelation of the soul.
As Antonitsis emphasizes: There is no crack in Lola’s song, nor in the joy of her listeners.
Visiting hours: Tue – Fri: 15:00 – 20:00, Saturday: 12:00 –16:00
BIO: SELECTED EXHIBITIONS
· 2016 Texting Spirits, Ileana Tounta Contemporary Art Center, Athens, Greece
· Unknown, Ludwig Museum, Koblenz, Germany
· Ritratti di Laurito, Solo show, Tre ville, Positano, Italy
· Hydra School Projects, Hydra, Greece
· 2015 Akashic Records, Tripoli Gallery, East Hampton, NY
· Selfies & Portraits of the East End, Guild Hall, East Hampton, NY
· 2014 Textile Design for Alice + Olivia
· Heaven, Miami Basel at the Shelbourne Hotel, Miami Beach, FL
· Picture of Lola, The Fireplace Project
· Forms Wresting with Existence, Eden Rock Gallery, Saint Barthélemy
· 2013 Dialogue Between Nature & A Soul, a film on Luigi Ontani, presented at the 55th Venice Biennale
· Presented at Palazzo Flangini and the Baur Hotel (May)
· Presented at CircuitOff Film Festival “Dialogue Between Nature & A Soul” (August)
· Calligraffiti: 1984-2013. Leila Heller Gallery, NY, NY
· St. Barthélemy to Southampton, Tripoli Gallery, Southampton, NY
· Within Reach. Tripoli Gallery Pop-Up Space: 980 Madison, NY, NY
· Manifesto. FIAF (French Institute Alliance Française). NY, NY
· 2012 Watercolors. Phillips de Pury. New York
· NADA Art Fair. The Hole. Miami, FL
· Night Vision. Tripoli Gallery. Southampton, NY
· 2011 Collaboration Max Mara: Carte Blanche, Silk Scarves
· Love Before Intimacy. The Hole. NY, NY
· Iodine Portraits. Tripoli Gallery. Southampton, NY
· 2010 “7:10” (“seven young artists for the new decade”) at the National Arts Club
· 2009 Infinite Blinding Beam. Tripoli Gallery. Southampton, NY
· 2005 Marder’s Gallery. Bridgehampton, NY
· Tuscan Sun Festival. Cortona, Italy
· Sandro Chia Studio. Rome, Italy
· 2003 Gallery Jorg Hassenbach (in conjunction with Art Brussels). Antwerp, The Netherlands
· The Incubator. NY, NY
· 2001 Ace Gallery. Los Angeles, CA
FILMS (DIRECTED, SHOT AND EDITED)
· 2014 Benjamin Clementine music video
· 2010-11 Dialogue Between a Soul and Nature a film based on Giacomo Leopardi starring Luigi Ontani
· 2010 Melissa shoes, commercial
· 2009 AQUA~REVE, a 42 second dream for 42Below
· 2007 Training Day, a Nike commercial for Steve Nash
· Various music videos for Lou Reed’s concert and feature film Berlin
· MA VENDEUSE, a fashion film for Zac Posen presented on Style.com
· 2005 Laughing and Crying, 8mm color
· 2002 Fisk Kiss, 16mm color
· 2000 Behind the Scenes: Before Night Falls, documentary for the feature film DVD
· 1999 Lazy Bones, 16mm black and white, hand-painted frame
· 2014 25 magazine, 3rd issue
· 2013 Acne
· 2011 Photo essay for Corriere della sera “Impossibili Lola Schnabel”
· 2005 Black Book. Photo essay on contemporary artists, March
· 2004 Interview. Photo essay for article on Edie Sedgewick, September
· Flaunt. Photo essay for article on Zac Posen, September
· 2002 Remember Me. Percival Press, Spain
· 1997 Dune. Drawings by Lola Schnabel, photographs by Mario Sorrenti
· Frank. Drawings by Lola Schnabel, photographs by Mario Sorrenti
· Joe. Drawings by Lola Schnabel, photographs by Mario Sorrenti
· ID. Set design for photographs
· 1996 Visionaire. Drawings by Lola Schnabel, photographs by Francesco Sorrenti
· Keds advertisement. Drawings by Lola Schnabel, photographs by Bruce Weber
· 1988 Art Random: Lola + Julian Schnabel. Art Random, Tokyo
· Sound design for: Creative Time, Anthology Film Archives, WKCR Columbia University’s Radio,Valentino, Ferragamo
· 2016 Collaboration Alice+Olivia, limited edition scarves
· 2013 Collaboration Tommy Hilfiger, special edition surfboards
· 2012 Collaboration Sportmax, Project Carte Blanche
· 2011 Collaboration Max Mara: Silk Scarves
· 2010 Board of advisors, Anthology Film Archive
· 2010 Benefit concert to digitize 70,000 independent films for Anthology Film Archive (Curator)
· 2007-10 Album covers for John Frusciante solo albums 9 (Designer)
· 2006 Projections for Lou Reeds concert in Berlin
· 2001 Project Alabama. Two hundred and fifty individual ink drawings, silk screens and collage designs for a custom clothing line
VIDEO: FISK KISS
COMING UP TOMORROW: TINOS PART I