Contrasting with the culture of high-definition images and instantaneous access, artist Maaike Schoorel makes what might be called ‘slow paintings’, works composed of subtle gestures and evocative strokes that reveal themselves and their subjects over time as the eye adjusts. A painter of international renown, Schoorel’s expert handling of colour and nuance gives her a surprising knack for evoking psychological reactions from viewers.
Working with such source material as live models and photographs of friends, family, lovers and herself, often cropped to evoke certain details and compositions, Schoorel commences her works with a figurative framework in mind. This is then broken down into subtle, individual strokes and gestures that are layered and built up upon either wholly white, off-white or black backgrounds to capture the essence of her subject, bleached out and ridden of visual noise with considerable skill and beauty. At first the works might appear to be totally abstract, but rest a little with them and soon elbows, faces, penises, breasts and eventually entire bodies reveal themselves with candour. Schoorel also works with still-lives and monumental old master compositions that allude to the history of her chosen medium.
Full of metaphor and allusions to memory, Schoorel’s paintings succeed in forging new ground with a singular style and practice that nonetheless nods to those rich movements of the past. She effectively reconfigures painting as a participatory experience, intensifying the process of looking and reminding us that seeing is as much about what cannot be seen as what can.
Born in 1973, Maaike Schoorel graduated from the Gerrit Rietveld Academy, Amsterdam and the Royal College of Art, London. Based in New York and London, her work has been featured in such important group shows as the British Art Show 7, and ‘Painting Between the Lines’ curated by Jens Hoffmann at the CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Art, San Francisco, as well as having solo shows at The Frans Hals Museum, Haarlem and featuring in publications such as Vitamin P2, Phaidon and Sanctuary, Thames & Hudson.