"On the move" an Artistic Odyssey with Romadin and Schmid

  19.01.2024 Arts & Culture, Gallery & Exhibitions

The backdrop to this artistic rendezvous is the latest exhibition at Studio Naegeli, aptly titled “On the Move.” The gallery invites us to traverse the lands of the masterpieces from the photographic lens of Hannes Schmid (1946) and the artistic strokes of Mikhail Romadin (1940–2012). In the invitation to the vernissage, attendees were beckoned to “look back in time” and, among other artworks, explore the previously concealed pieces of these two visionaries.

In an intimate conversation with Anna Högl, the co-owner of Studio Naegeli and stepdaughter to the renowned artist Mikhail Romadin, we delve into the intricate details of the “On the Move” exhibition currently on display at Studio Naegeli.

My conversation with Anna begins with a poignant acknowledgement of the contemporary challenges tied to exhibiting a Russian artist, given the geopolitical climate. Anna, however, eloquently states, “I feel that people realise that there is no connection between artists, especially those who didn’t even live in our time, and political decisions.”

Anna, could you share with us the inspiration behind the “On the Move” exhibition?
The exhibition is a tribute to the incredible journeys of Hannes Schmid and Mikhail Romadin. We wanted to showcase the seamless connection between their artistic endeavours and take viewers on a visual odyssey through their fascinating works.

Tell me about the process of curating such a diverse collection of artworks from both artists?
It was indeed a meticulous process. Selecting artworks from Hannes Schmid’s extensive archive and Mikhail Romadin’s rich collection required careful consideration. The goal was to present a harmonious narrative that highlighted the unique strengths of each artist while maintaining a cohesive flow throughout the exhibition.

The title “On the Move” suggests a dynamic experience. How did you come up with it?
The title emerged organically from the essence of the exhibition – a continuous, living and layered process that allows for the exploration of new artworks throughout the exhibition period. It captures the spirit of movement and discovery that both artists embodied in their creative journeys.

The geopolitical climate can sometimes pose challenges when exhibiting an artist like Romadin. How do you navigate those complexities?
Artists shouldn’t be victims of the political systems, especially those who are no longer alive and were never members of any political parties. Moreover, Mikhail Romadin didn’t consider himself just a Russian artist; he travelled all over the world and was based between the USA, Monaco and Moscow. His artworks are in the collections of the Ludwig Forum in Cologne, Les Invalides Paris, the Cartier Foundation in Paris, Checkpoint Charlie Museum Berlin, the Zimmerli Museum in New Jersey and many other places worldwide. His art was inspired by such important artists and his close friends from Moscow as Andrei Tarkovsky, but also by American pop art, jazz music, and even traditional Asian culture.

Moving on to the exhibition’s evolution, the thematic shift from Schmid’s cowboys to Romadin’s drawings is intriguing. How did you decide on this progression?
We found many common points between these two very different artists. Funny enough, while Hannes Schmid was working on his legendary Marlboro Cowboys, Mikhail Romadin was spending time in Texas and even became an honorary citizen of this state. As a result, the exhibition features both famous cowboys by Hannes Schmid and drawings of Texas rodeos by Romadin, made around the same time in the 90s.

Is the rotation of artworks an organic process, or is there a deliberate plan to keep things dynamic? How do you decide what gets replaced and when?
The rotation is deliberate, providing viewers with fresh perspectives and incentives to return. Depending on which wall you start, you’ll get a different angle on the story. The thematic coherence and curation ensure understanding, but we aim to keep it fluid, introducing changes within the time frame.

I’m curious about the late additions to the exhibition, like the focus on female figures. How did that layer develop, and when did you decide to incorporate it?
Hannes Schmid, known for his male cowboy heroes, at the same time, paid great attention to various strong female characters; while Romadin’s diptych “Artists” features mostly male figures, his even larger artwork “Beauties” he dedicates to significant female icons. In the series “Missing Marilyn“, taken in the late 80s, Hannes recaptured the mood and aura of Marilyn Monroe. A task which many photographers have had a go at, but none yet have managed to achieve such powerful yet subtle images like Schmid or “El Matador” – a story of a brave matador who falls in love with an equally temperamental flamenco dancer.

As a curator, how do you approach the responsibility of representing such esteemed artists and maintaining a high standard in the art world?
It’s a challenging but fulfilling role. Representing artists like Romadin and Schmid requires a deep understanding of their work and a commitment to presenting it authentically. Thanks to the inspiring exchange and collaboration with Hillary Schmid, as well as the incredible support and engagement of my sister, Alexandra Shein-Romadina, we were able to make it happen.

Given your family’s involvement, how do you manage the dynamics of working together, especially on such comprehensive projects?

The collaboration within the family is very present, especially within this exhibition where my mom and sister are very much involved too. It adds a personal touch to the entire process. In the end, it’s not just a workspace; it’s a shared space. The gallery operates out of Christian’s family house, where I also reside during the winter season, and I’m very grateful to them for this opportunity.


ON THE MOVE viewing until 15 March. www.studionaegeli.com


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