JONG OH / FLORIAN SCHMIDT
The work of this pair is connected through the use of straight lines, a removal of extraneous materials, and crisp formalism. However, to categorize them as minimalists as we are apt to does not fit comfortably. I think of artists with whom I started: Ellsworth Kelly, Carl Andre, Dan Flavin, and Donald Judd. Their art was severe, little outside the bounds of hard-edge and ninety degree angles, unemotional and fully planned. Even Kelly made precise preliminary paper constructions. Instead, Oh and Schmidt are in the genre of minimalism, their work is largely informed by intuition and is altered in the making of it.
Jong Oh (b. 1981, Korea), uses hand-painted strings, sheets of Plexiglas, and impossibly thin chains, to make work that reminds of the formalism of Fred Sandback. Although a better understanding of Oh’s work would be a comparison with Richard Tuttle’s early career, which smacked of formalism (the shaped canvas pinned to the wall, bent wires with false shadows) but in the end were completely intuitive. Oh’s work is mostly site-specific, he assesses a space, museum or home, and begins to work, and the end result is unpredictable and elegant. More heart than calculation. They are like tone poems.
Florian Schmidt (b. 1980, Austria) is a painter of primarily two dimensional works. They are grounded in minimal abstraction, but his surface colors, textures, and depths vary. In some ways they synthesize the lineage that includes Barnett Newman and Brice Marden with the structural and three-dimensional aspects seen in the work of Europeans like Imi Knoebel and Dutch post-Rietveld. Schmidt shows a delicacy, a perfect intuition, in his details. The imputed formalism seen at a distance thaws when rough seams, stapled joints, and asymmetrical sections are increasingly obvious as we draw near. The paintings are beautiful without conceit.
Marc J. Straus