Fett auf Mager

Jean-Frédéric Schnyder 
Mike Zahn
23 January 2023

Jean-Fréderic Schnyder
Detail from the exhibition Jean-Frédéric Schnyder
Vienna Secession
January—May 2023

Contemporary art risks fatigue through repetition of and familiarity with that which is seen. Furthermore, given the ubiquity of the Internet, suspicions are harbored that everyday life is composed of that already looked at, even if this is rarely the case.

As an architecture of experience, the Internet isn’t a space. It’s become the sole regulator of time itself. In its illimitable thingness, the Internet truly is the past, in the most literal sense. The binary strata which organize exchange determine that content arrives from this construction of it. It establishes transactional values of collective utility which blur distinctions between social media and social realism, and perpetually challenge any discrete sense of self.

Online, all is subject to inscription. This includes words, images, audio, memes, quotes, likes, shares, dislikes, submissions, locations, expressions, desires, and all else experienced or imagined, transformed as is into data. The basic reminder of this activity shows the vast pool of the documented past is always expanding. It subsumes the present as much as it swallows any intimation of the future. This is the shared condition of the now ruled by standards of digitalization.

Given this situation, painting inevitably trades in anachronisms. It’s a common position ill-suited to addressing any shared background in direct terms, even as the medium weakly resists translation into code. Jean-Frederic Schnyder makes this explicit by painting only that which he has seen in the flesh. His work seems to belie this act in its stylistic diversity. Nonetheless, it exists as a modest record of fact, situated on an unwavering horizon where stasis and mobility are reconciled in the stroke of one simple gesture. It is convincing in the thickness of its presence, and is found in the unique places where this type of art has always flourished. These are pictures which must actually be seen to be believed.

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