Monday, September 6, 2010

Featured Artist: Harald Schmitz-Schmelzer

Featured artist, Harald Schmitz-Schmelzer
Photo taken in Cottonwood Pass, Colorado, Summer 2010

Brief intro

My name is Harald Schmitz-Schmelzer. I was born in Duisburg 1953 and now live in Muelheim. Both cities are in Germany, near Duesseldorf and Cologne, two of the most interesting cities concerning arts. I studied at Kunstakademie Duesseldorf, where I received the final degrees called Meisterschüler (Master Student) and Staatsexamen Kunst (Teacher Certificate in Art). I also studied Art History, with a focal point on art of the 20th century.

Looking back on my childhood, I was always painting, drawing, or constructing something. Many of these products looked really chaotic. I started painting “impressionistic” when I was twelve or thirteen years old. By fourteen, I started my “surrealist” phase and so on. When I was twenty or so, I began reflecting on my own way of making art, and stopped to mirror visual reality in my paintings. My first abstract paintings were very large, 2 x 2 meters. This decision was not accompanied by much appreciation by my fellow students at the Kunstakademie, because most of them were influenced by the neo-expressive painters who became famous in Germany and all over the world during that time (1975 – 80). I always stayed true to myself and kept working in a non-figurative, self-referential and sometimes reductive way.

Harald Schmitz-Schmelzer, O.T,
58 x 16 x 21 cm, paint on soft board
, 1984

Traveling is very important for me, as I am still living in the same area where I was born. When I was a student I traveled to Asia very often, to countries such as India, Nepal, Malaysia, Indonesia, China, Kazachstan and more. Nowadays, I like to travel in the North of America. I appreciate the “wild, wild West”. In the past, I rode many mountain bike trails in the United States, now I prefer fly fishing and rock climbing.

Climbing in France, 2008

Beside my full time job as an artist, I have been teaching art at high school and college for nearly 30 years. The teaching load is very small, that enables me to cope with both professions rather easily. In the 70s and 80s, I co-managed a gallery with a friend. We presented superlative exhibitions that featured Joseph Beuys, Imi Knoebel, Jürgen Partenheimer and others. Unfortunately, we had little economic success in running the gallery and decided to close shop.

On my work

Harald Schmitz-Schmelzer, Hackbrett 31,
48 x 43 x 24 cm, resin on plywood, 2007

Since the time of my studies, I have been interested in exploring the possibilities of color, paint and chromaticity. I experimented with shaped canvas to find a certain “body” for the color and was mesmerized by painting plenty of transparent layers of paint on very large canvasses. This “iteration loop” was a kind of meditation for me.

Harald Schmitz-Schmelzer, Lindgrün und Türkis (dunkel),
69 x 67 x 16 cm, Resin on Plywood, 2009

Later I started to paint on bulky canvas and to cast colored cement to three dimensional shapes. In the early 90s, I found a piano maker who coated some of my paintings with a clear resin. These paintings looked a little bit like Asian lacquer paintings. That was the beginning of my work with resin that I continue to use until today. When I found the right resin to cast the lacquer thicker and thicker, I combined it with earlier ideas of the transparent layers and began to hear the “3-D color striped works” comments about my work.

Harald Schmitz-Schmelzer, HB 42 schwarz, Kirschbaumholz,
Resin on Plywood, 48.5 x 46.5 x 21 cm,

Well, actually there are no stripes in my work at all. Each color is a three dimensional corpus with a certain chromaticity, with a certain shine, transparency and sedimentation. That means the weight of the particles of my paint mixtures is different so they affect the presence of each color. All this allows me to show the qualities of color and paint that could not be seen in traditional materials like oil color.

Harald Schmitz-Schmelzer, diskos Red-Orange,
59 x 20cm, Resin on Plywood, 2009

What is the message I would like to convey to my viewers? What is the message of a sublime landscape? What is the message of Bach’s cello suites? A composition of music has some analogy to my pieces. They need a lot of time for production, they need some time for their reception.

Harald Schmitz-Schmelzer, Green on red,
75 x 7 x 26 cm, Resin on Plywood, 1999

They do not have the simultaneous presence of a classic two dimensional painting, the viewer has to move from one side to the other side of the object to see it all successively. In a lot of aspects the pieces are in between: painting and sculpture, color and surface reflection, control and coincidence. They seem yet to have a certain impression of flavor to some people. Several have told me that they have the feeling that they would like to lick my work.

Harald Schmitz-Schmelzer, Kleines Farbsediment 6/08,
resin on plywood, 35 x20 x11 cm, 2008

Encyclopedia of the possibilities of color… beauty of color…iteration…

but, like Sisyphus with his stone: that is what I have to do!

So I can agree with Picasso saying: “I do not seek…” But I disagree with him, when he continues: “… I find.” The above mentioned quality of individual color is not a fruit of the spur of the moment, but a result of long learning by doing! You can see this obvious fact when you look at monochromatic paintings. Only a few artists achieved this special vibrant quality, many others did not and remain dull.

Harald's artworks on display in his studio.

The hybrid character of my pieces, the ambiguity of the visual presence is something I like to achieve. This cannot be transferred into another communication system like language without loss of the essential.


Currently I am showing my work in two group shows. One, at Lausberg Contemporary in Toronto, Canada, while the other is at Galerie von Braunbehrens in Munich, Germany.

Harald Schmitz-Schmelzer, 72 Farben,
94 x 88 x 15.5 cm, Resin on Plywood, 2008

This upcoming October, I will have a solo show at Gallery de Bellefeuille in Montreal, Canada. I will be also showing my work with Robert Schad, a sculptor, at Galerie Jean Greset in Besancon, France from October 14 to November 6, 2010. The opening reception has been scheduled for Thursday, October 14, 2010 from 4:00pm. For more information please visit gallery's website.

New works by Harald Schmitz-Schmelzer
69 x 67 x 15 cm each object, Resin on Plywood, 2010

The Museum Muelheim an der Ruhr in Germany is presenting their permanent collections, where my work is part of the exhibition.

In this photo, Harald Schmitz-Schmelzer with his work created in 1996,
is a permanent collection of Museum Muelheim.

I am represented by the below galleries:


Harald Schmitz-Schmelzer in his studio, photo taken in July 2010

Your readers are welcome to contact me at For further information and to see more images of my work, please visit my website

Image Credit: All images courtesy of Harald Schmitz-Schmelzer