We hope you’ll join us on 3rd Friday, November 19th, as Kiosk Gallery presents Fever Dream, a solo exhibition of paintings by Stefan Schulz. Schulz uses elements of narrative storytelling, genres, and tropes to examine archetypes and patterns of behavior that play out in our lives.
I’ve always been compelled to imagine the stories and films I love being cast over my own life. When I was younger this meant long evenings of swinging a plastic sword scabbard in the backyard at imagined vampires, or painstakingly drawing Spider-Man’s webs. Now, I think more of how the media we love and consume guides the roles we play in work, romantic relationships, or even in idleness. Does the person smoke more like a tired detective or beat poet? What line will they mimic to break the ice at the bar? Why did the server rap their knuckles on the table like that?
So in my paintings I approach genres and tropes as a way of investigating feelings that are fragile in their particularity. Examples would include using horror tropes such as Werewolves to comment on the fear of repressed aggression taking hold, or Greek myths to explore sexual yearning. These broad narrative molds help me to activate the spaces and feelings that interest me in my own observations.
Telling a story, however, is not the end objective I steer toward in my practice, but rather to have the process of acting out the tropes, and fusing them with one’s own reality, be the focus. Being conscious of the heavy sway media can exert, and having experienced no small amount of disillusionment from the contrast of lived experience and romantic expectation, I don’t simply intend to infect people with attractive, escapist fantasies. The paintings should, through their formal elements, make it obvious that one is viewing a story. By employing elaborate means to stage a scene (such as making props, adjusting lighting, and picking unique environments for it all), and then drawing much of the scene from observation, I want it to be clear to the viewer that they are seeing a frozen moment of a performance, and for them to connect sensually to the act itself. My hope is that this connection helps the viewer appreciate the roles and influences they operate within, or to find some freedom in the thought that these can be mutable. I also feel that painting is the perfect medium for me to get this discussion of formal essence across since the restraints of a fixed image require expressing a multitude of experiential layers in one object. It is a medium meant for contemplation, and as such, it can more easily lead a viewer to analyze its physical construction as well as optic illusion.
Lastly, the attraction I have to emulating and utilizing modes of storytelling is hardly a cold and formal exercise. I was won over by the great emotional load stories can deliver, and I hope for these paintings to evoke some response of the soul. The drama of color palette and the particularity of a figure’s pose is how I try hardest to affect the viewer in this sense. These are paintings made to offer a sense of freedom, not from one’s own physical and emotional reality, but from the expectations they engage that with. We are all storytellers, and the parts are ours to play.
Stefan Schulz graduated from the KCAI painting department in 2017. A painter, primarily, who also draws, and occasionally builds sculptures, he continues his practice in Kansas City, MO to this day.
Friday, November 19th, 2021, 6-9 pm
Saturdays 12-4 pm, and by appointment
Saturday, November 27th
Saturday, December 25th
Saturday, January 1st