From the gnarled trees of Ithaca’s woods, to the warm, round edges of a Parisian apartment building, to the power plant smokestacks as seen from a Greenpoint warehouse rooftop, neighborhood resident Christopher Schade brings the outside in with a series of “plein air” paintings that he then reinvents in the interior of his studio. The petite and realistic paintings serve as “anchors,” from which larger and boldly reimagined iterations can drift while remaining relatively tethered to original representation of reality.

During a preview visit to his studio this weekend, Schade described his interest in “obstruction as a strategy,” an approach which gives both depth and humor to these traditional landscapes. A tree trunk becomes the focus on a piece, while the compelling majesty of Notre Dame recedes and rests in the background. These unusual and unexpected choices create a rich palate of shapes and shadow that Schade seizes and explores in his larger works. Using the original plein air as a base, Schade’s colorist perspective dominates his central pieces, as he toys with light and dimension, leaving these versions dangling on the edge of abstraction.  Matching the central piece to the original plein air becomes something of a game, and a challenging one at that!

The objects and forms within Schade’s pieces reveal complex relationships which sometimes even surprise him. As he describes it, in one piece trees “battle” one another, while in another a building covered in vegetation is transformed into a “cyclops.” Schade’s interest in, and imagination of, these “anthropomorphic and polymorphic forms” is allowed to flourish in these meditative and vibrant iterations of his original realistic works. It seems that bringing the outside in turns it inside out!

You can wander through Schade’s scenes this weekend during the GO Brooklyn Art Festival. Visit him at his studio all day Saturday and Sunday (9/8 & 9/9) at 152 Eagle Street.

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