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Jörg Schmeisser,Here and Now, Echoes of the Past

Jörg Schmeisser, Enter the Forbidden City and other works of art.

The Artist

Jörg Schmeisser was born in Stolp, Pomerania (now Poland) in 1942.  After graduating from the Academy of Fine Arts Hamburg in 1967 he took up graduate studies at the Kyoto City University of Arts in Japan. He is an internationally renowned Master printmaker and draftsman.  Until his death in Canberra in 2012, his long career took him around the world through fellowships, artist in residents and, Professor and lecturer positions.  He became head of Printmaking at the Canberra School of Art (now the ANU School of Art) for 20 years from 1978.  An insatiable traveler and artist, much of Jörg Schmeisser’s work resembles a single plane visual diary of places, cultures and objects he observed in the Middle East, Europe, South East Asia, the USA, Antarctica, Japan and Australia.  His profound skill in rendering his observations in astonishing detail were often superimposed with gestural lines, abstract motifs and script reflecting his personal response to the places and landscapes he experienced.  Mastering the multi-plate colour etching technique, Jörg created intricate layers of complexity to describe the natural and city landscapes he travelled though.

Jörg Schmeisser held over 200 exhibitions, both in Australia and overseas.  His work is represented in many of the world’s most notable collections including the British Museum, Victoria and Albert Museum, Bibliotheque Nationale de France, Museum of Modern Art in New York, Staatliche Sammlungen Dresden, Germany, Museum fur Ostasiatische Kunst in Cologne,Germany and the National Gallery of America.  In Australia, his work is held in all of the major state galleries including the National Gallery of Australia.

The Works of Art

Enter the Forbidden City, resembles something akin to an architectural plan with the front elevation of the forbidden city and a slightly oblique angled view of the city beyond.  The picture is bordered with  Chinese motifs such as dragons, a cauldron, a ship and other details which is  part of Schmeisser's style. The work is also stamped as though it is signed and owned by  Chinese officials (the red stamp in a square). The work is meant to imitate and is perhaps inspired from  historic images and other such documentation. The overall composition is certainly eye-catching.

The University of Canberra Art Collection has a further three works of art and a limited edition book on the works of Jorg Schmeisser. Canefire Triptych, is an incredibly colourful  etching/print  with a swirl of colours that imitate a  raging fire. The work was created  in 1989.

Here and  now, Echoes from a Distant past is much like Enter the Forbidden City in that it focuses on detail. It is a swirling landscape of mountains, symbols and interpretations of ancient architectural stone creatures that weave subtly through a composition around a single human figure.  Dark mountains contrast against a brilliant sky and foreground looming with sculptural animals creating depth and drama.  Hundreds of coloured lines and markings form movement while static exotic symbols and delicate fields of soft colour provide a conflicting sense of peace and steadiness.

A limited edition book by Jorg Schmeisser is also held in the University's Art Collection. It is full of details reminiscent of Here and Now, Enter the Forbidden City and many other works. In itself the book is like a catalogue of details .  It also  provides some inclination as to what inspired the artist. The plates in the book are truly beautiful and compliment the other works by the artist.

Bibliography

Jörg Schmeisser CV, Beaver Gallery, 2012 http://www.beavergalleries.com.au/CV/schmeisser.pdf

Treasures of a Master Printmaker, Sydney Morning Herald 2012 http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/art-and-design/treasures-of-a-master-printmaker-20120803-23l3n.html

A Printmaker’s Journey: The Graphic Art of Jörg Schmeisser, 1997.  Exhibition, Georgetown University, Washington DC http://www.library.georgetown.edu/exhibition/printmaker%E2%80%99s-journey-graphic-art-j%C3%B6rg-schmeisser#