German artist Simon Schubert presents gothic interiors with minimalist means in his current exhibition “Multa Nocte” (meaning “deepest night”) at Foley Gallery. To the left, an entire gallery wall is covered with white paper, on which the artist has created interior spaces simply by folding and creasing individual sheets. To the right, the entire wall is dark, covered with graphite paper, among which the artist has placed finely rendered charcoal illustrations of house exteriors, candles, and Edgar Allen Poe.
The subject matter is not just Poe, as in the portrait above, but the architecture associated with the American Romantic author of mysteries and detective stories. Schubert portrays historical addresses associated with Poe or those described in his writings. Houses, a single candle, entryways, candelabra, a tree, Poe himself….all embrace Romantic cliche. The medium works to the the artist’s advantage as the black-on-black creates something like the slippery image of a daguerreotype: disappearing and reappearing depending on where you stand in relation to the light source. It works because it is simply done, leaving the excess to the imaginative subject matter: burning 19th century homes, the waning candle, the ill-fated Poe’s stare.
Lacking human figures, aside from the presiding portrait of Poe, the spaces themselves become protagonists. Especially in the folded white paper works, where Schubert creates empty interiors, the artist implies a psychology of space. For example, there are several stairways, one in particular with a perspective to induce vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock also favored stairs as sites of psychological resonance). These atmospheric constructions of space manage to convey drama and loss without a human subject.
In a seeming concession to the melodrama of the subject matter, a small model of a house created of dark green iridescent feathers sits in the middle of the gallery. A large seascape in charcoal anchors the back wall. If you want to indulge yourself, and you know you do, head down to the Lower East Side to view these carefully made works on paper.
On view through October 18. More about the exhibition here.