Matthias Schaller Leiermann

Magnificent mirrors, reflecting parts of the interior, characterize the image subject of Matthias Schaller's photographic series »Leiermann«. These mirrors, however, have long since passed their heyday. They still hang in Venetian palazzi with a worn patina, cracks and traces of decay.

One looks in vain for the presence of man in these photographs. No one's reflection can be seen, and the rooms in which the mirrors hang seem abandoned. This is the leitmotif of Matthias Schaller's artistic strategy and poetics: the absence of the human subject. The significance of the mirror as a testimony to disappearance and memory has a special role to play here.

In the series »Leiermann«, Matthias Schaller alludes to the decline of Venice, whose heyday in the 17th and 18th centuries was characterized by wealth and the Arts were highly valued and promoted. During this period, a culture emerged whose legacy is still relevant to us today, but which came to an end with the founding of the Republic of Italy under Napoleon.

The title of the series is taken from Franz Schubert's »Winterreise«, more precisely from the last song of the cycle »Der Leiermann«. Matthias Schaller has transferred the interpretation of Schubert's music - pain, grief and loss - into the visual. Anyone who knows Schubert's »Leiermann« and has the melancholy of this song in their head, can feel the pain of the loss of Venice when looking at the photographs. The ghostly and decayed character of the mirrors as well as the absence of the human individual heighten this canon. The artist, who himself lived in Venice for many years and for whom the loss of culture is accompanied by a loss of the city, plays with the two genres of art and captures their proximity to each other.

An artist's bookwith a...

One looks in vain for the presence of man in these photographs. No one's reflection can be seen, and the rooms in which the mirrors hang seem abandoned. This is the leitmotif of Matthias Schaller's artistic strategy and poetics: the absence of the human subject. The significance of the mirror as a testimony to disappearance and memory has a special role to play here.

In the series »Leiermann«, Matthias Schaller alludes to the decline of Venice, whose heyday in the 17th and 18th centuries was characterized by wealth and the Arts were highly valued and promoted. During this period, a culture emerged whose legacy is still relevant to us today, but which came to an end with the founding of the Republic of Italy under Napoleon.

The title of the series is taken from Franz Schubert's »Winterreise«, more precisely from the last song of the cycle »Der Leiermann«. Matthias Schaller has transferred the interpretation of Schubert's music - pain, grief and loss - into the visual. Anyone who knows Schubert's »Leiermann« and has the melancholy of this song in their head, can feel the pain of the loss of Venice when looking at the photographs. The ghostly and decayed character of the mirrors as well as the absence of the human individual heighten this canon. The artist, who himself lived in Venice for many years and for whom the loss of culture is accompanied by a loss of the city, plays with the two genres of art and captures their proximity to each other.

An artist's book with a text by Mario Codognato has been published in 2019 by the artist's own publishing house Petrus Books to accompany the series »Leiermann«.

The NRW-Forum of the Museum Kunstpalast in Düsseldorf is showing the exhibition "Portrait" from 11 February to 22 May 2022 with a wide-ranging overview of Matthias Schaller's series.
In addition, Beck & Eggeling will be showing a set from Matthias Schaller's DISPORTRAIT series in its showroom, excerpts of which can also be seen in large format in the NRW-Forum of the Kunstpalast.

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