“Think differently”. This concept could take us away from visible existing concepts and ideas. Humans have been so used to taking on challenges and struggling hard following the most difficult roads that they unknowingly ignore something useful that easily presents itself. When we talk about Ana Schmidt’s works of art, this is an important question for the public: why has the simplest concept of “landscape” disappeared now? Can anyone quickly name ten contemporary landscape artists of the 21st century? It’s hard, isn’t it?
Ana Schmidt is a contemporary landscape artist and urban architect based in Bilbao, Spain, although she has also lived with her family in Bochum, Saigon, Bangkok, Barcelona and now Bilbao; she has traveled to 25 cities around the world. This becomes an important role in what she brings in her work in her two professions. Ana holds a Master of Science in Architecture from the Polytechnic University of Barcelona and an ARC Living Master from the Art Renewal Center. Ana has constantly studied the works of old masters in the history of art. Whether it was the application of the colors, the idea of representing the concepts, or even the techniques in the first step, it seems that Ana understood very well and portrayed her concepts, ideas and stories on the paintings. Ana’s abilities to observe and capture lifelike landscapes on canvas in a beautiful painting might remind us of 20th century landscape painter Richard Estes.
Well, Ana Schmidt is one of the artists of the present time who brings back the concept of landscapes and makes us aware of the aesthetic of the thing that can be right in front of our eyes, called as “landscapes”. Ana’s commission on creating realistic works of art captures the viewer’s attention with just one glance. Ana has exhibited internationally in various cities in the United States, Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom. She has exhibited her works in more than forty exhibitions. Ana’s solo exhibitions include Mall Galleries, London, 2019, Arte Contemporanea Gallery, 2015, Rieti, Italy; Cervantes Gallery 6, 2015; Oviedo, Spain; the Occhio Gallery of Art, 2013, Venice, Italy; Torrene Areto exhibition space in Getxo, 2012; Spain and Basque Architectural Association in Bilbao, Spain, 2010. Ana has received several awards for her works, such as the first prize at the Columbia Threadneedle Prize 2018 at the Mall Galleries, London, the second ARC Salon prize in the landscape category, United States , 2018, first and third prize in the landscape category, American Art Award 2017, United States, third ARC Salon Award in the landscape category, United States, 2015, acrylic works: Radical Breakthroughs Award, United States and won de many other awards in Spain, Italy and other countries.
This is how Ana describes her landscapes; “The landscape can be seen as a step backwards, but it is also a resolutely contemporary concern. As historian Simon Schama writes in his book Landscape and memory (1995), it is “A text in which the generations write their recurring obsessions”. This text continues to be written and reworked today in our cities and across the country. The idea of landscape, whether approached literally or from a more esoteric point of view, is the common thread of my work. Sometimes it is a redesigned landscape, sometimes purely depicted: from views at eye level to panoramas that represent entire cities; they offer a detailed vision of the metropolis and question issues such as its own experience of urban life, urban growth, economic inequalities, etc. They embody the different realities of the contemporary city: “the banal and the impressive coexist in the same territory.”
Ana talks about her job as an urban architect around her theme of urban landscape paintings. Ana believes that architectural buildings have a lot to say about cultures, a reflection of the society and traditions that she brings to her landscapes. Ana says, “Of course, my academic background and my actual practice as an urban architect are the basis for the choice of these subjects. Almost any landscape is a cultural landscape, is a place in which man has intervened and is therefore the reflection of a society, of its customs. The city is more than a physical structure. It is, among other things, a state of mind, a moral order, a model of ritualized attitudes and behaviors, a network of human connections and a set of customs and traditions with particular practices and discourses. Urban landscapes are therefore, in addition to real environments, environments of signs that are built in the interaction between our own subjectivity and that of others, they are relational constructions. The city, the landscapes that I paint are a metaphor for the spirit and the human condition.
Ana feels that people are losing their roots in modern times. The spectacular urban marketing policies that have multiplied in recent years in almost every city are global. Nowadays, cities have icons, the marketing icons that distinguish them, but these icons do not represent the identity of a place, of people. On the other hand, development policies create a confused pattern on the fringes of cities like land disputes, complex road links that leave empty land, a new hybrid landscape, sometimes banal, but where people use it, stroll. and write their stories and graffiti tags on the walls. Well, this current scenario seems to be visible in his paintings.
Well, if we observe closely, there is more to Ana’s realistic architectural buildings: the foreground and background are made up of things like foliage, cracked walls, haze, a puddle, objects used in everyday life, etc. These places are empty; it seems like a lot has happened here in the past which brings up the memories, emotions and feelings attached to it. As a viewer, there is a freedom to create our own stories while looking at the painting and to imagine the moments we might have had in the past that bring to mind different people, incidents and objects. Time and people pass, but the earth remains.
Speaking of medium and material, Ana works in acrylic on canvas. Well, at first glance, the realistic landscapes appear to be in oil. Ana describes her painting technique when she says: “The technique is very similar to that of old oil painting, although the drying process is different. I use a very limited palette to make my colors. On a red-brown layer, I draw the patterns and paint them in a succession of layers, alternating the opaque layers with the transparencies. I use a glazing medium to increase the flow and achieve a clear, sheer glaze. I use a wide variety of brushes and I apply the paint quite diluted because in my paintings the line is not perceived. Ana’s color palette also includes Prussian Blue, Cobalt Blue, Oxide Yellow, and Cadmium Red.
Ana Schmidt’s paintings have been featured in numerous art magazines including Catalog The Columbia Threadneedle Prize, Figurative Art Today, Mall Galleries, Federation of British Artists, 2018, 13th International Art Renewal Center Salon Catalog, International Realism, ACC Art Books, 2018, Acrylique Artist Magazine, winter issue, Beauté au milieu des ruins, 2016, Guía Leonardo, 2016, Arte y Libertad, XI 2016, Fine Art Connoisseur, issue of sept / oct 2015 and Catalog NordArt 2015 make it part. Ana is constantly working on her upcoming projects, “I should have shown a selection of cityscapes at NordArt 2020, but due to COVID restrictions, the event has been suspended and will take place in 2021. I’m still working on new images related to this topic, the cityscape. Nevertheless, I am also working on a new series, in which I want to recover the human figure as the central axis of the story ”, Ana explains.
It is not always important to go beyond what is already there to create something unique, because beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Landscapes will always be an integral part of the life of every human being, because it is the only place where he is born and spends his entire life.