The Wonderful Story of Peter Schlemihl:
Shadow Theater and Color Explosion


[…] Not everyone takes risks in watercolor, the caprice of the water means that the stain is difficult to control. It is a pity, given the lyricism and the lightness of the technique. Anija Seedler, a German artist born in Leipzig, manages it with mastery and a touch of kaleidoscopic madness. The more concrete a drawing seems to be, the more noticeably this impression instantly starts to waver due to a shining pair of eyes, a peculiar pose or an enigmatically suggested story. A pair of glowing eyes or a strangeness of pose complicates an apparently predictable story or literal drawing. If there is a combination of the portrait gallery and bestiary in these works, it is arguably the latter that wins out. Birds, reptiles, mammals like cats and bears - all are groomed into a beautiful cabinet of curiosities, resembling a naïve kind of Darwinism.
'The Wonderful Story of Peter Schlemihl' is Seedler's first exhibition in Portugal, in which she presents the original illustrations to a Faustian tale, written in the 19th century by Adelbert von Chamisso, in which the protagonist Peter Schlemil exchanges his shadow for an endless gold purse. Ostracized, he spends his last coins on old boots, and becomes a traveller. The moral of this story is ambiguous, but Seedler's credulous character is transformed into a Chinese ink silhouette, somewhat indebted to shadow theater pioneer Lotte Reiniger (1899-1981). With a waddle and a high hat that makes him identifiable throughout the pages, he stalks or is stunned and still, surrounded by bugs, witnesses and metaphors for his misfortune.
There are about 20 illustrations and collages altogether, two of them in large format, gesturing towards the artist's similarly scaled paintings. This is a body of work marked by a romantic intensity. The beings depicted - vulgar, humorous, childish - have roots, not so much in contemporary illustration - but in the sophisticated fables in which philosophical creatures allowed us to put ourselves in front of the mirror.

Translation from Portuguese Ellen Nunes / Monica Sheets



[...] Nicht Jeder traut sich dem Aquarell, der Launenhaftigkeit des Wassers, der schwierigen Beherrschung der Farbkleckse zuzuwenden. Bedenkt man die lyrische Qualität und Zartheit dieser Technik, so ist das bedauerlich. Anija Seedler, in Leipzig geborene Deutsche, handhabt sie mit Meisterschaft und einem Hauch von kaleidoskopischen Wahnsinn. Je konkreter ein Bild / eine Zeichnung zu sein scheint, desto deutlicher gerät eben dieser Eindruck sofort wieder ins Wanken durch ein leuchtendes Augenpaar, eine Absonderlichkeit der Pose oder eine rätselhaft angedeutete Geschichte. In der Zusammenstellung der Bilder des Bestiariums, gewinnt der Letztere. Vögel, Reptilien, Säugetiere, wie Katzen und Bären, richten sich in einem wunderschönen Kabinett der Kuriositäten her. In „Die wundersame Geschichte des Peter Schlemihl“, ihrer ersten Einzelausstellung in Portugal, versammelt Anija Originalillustrationen, die sie für dieses Faustische Märchen von Adelbert von Chamisso aus dem 19.Jahrhundert gemalt hat. [...] Insgesamt sind es fast 20 Illustrationen und Collagen, darunter zwei großformatige - ein von romantischer Intensität durchdrungenes Werk. Die von ihr erschaffenen Wesen wurzeln weniger in der zeitgenössischen Illustration - der alltäglichen, der humoristischen, der Kinderbuchillustration - sondern vielmehr in hochentwickelten Fabeln, in denen philosophische Kreaturen uns einen Spiegel vorhalten. [...]

Übersetzung aus dem Portugiesischen Sudabeh Mohafez



'A História Maravilhosa de Peter Schlemihl':
Teatro de sombras, explosão de cores
Silvia Souto Cunha / visao sapo

Nem todos arriscam a aguarela, o capricho da água, o controlo difícil da mancha. É pena, dado o lirismo e a leveza desta técnica. Anija Seedler, alemã nascida em Leipzig, manejaa com maestria e um toque de loucura caleidoscópica. Por mais literal que um desenho aparente ser, essa sensação é desarrumada por um par de olhos incandescentes, uma estranheza na pose, uma história adivinhada. Entre a galeria de retratos e o bestiário, ganha este último. Pássaros, répteis, mamíferos como gatos e ursos, arrumamse num belíssimo cabinet de curiosités – como um Darwin naïve.

Em A História Maravilhosa de Peter Schlemil, a sua primeira exposição em Portugal, Anija traz as ilustrações originais feitas para um conto faustiano, escrito no século XIX por Adelbert von Chamisso: Peter Schlemil troca a sua sombra por uma bolsa de ouro infindável. Ostracizado, gasta as últimas moedas numas botas velhas, e transfigurase em viajante. A moral desta história é ambígua, mas no traço de Seedler este crédulo é uma silhueta a tinta da china, algo devedora do pioneirismo do teatro de sombras de Lotte Reiniger (1899-1981): um pernalta de calções abalonados e chapéu alto que corre pelas páginas, ou que estaca, aturdido, rodeado por bichos, testemunhas e metáforas para o seu infortúnio. Ao todo, são cerca de 20 ilustrações e colagens, duas delas em grande formato, já a caminharem para a pintura, um corpo de trabalho marcado por uma intensidade romântica. Os seres por si criados têm raiz, não tanto na ilustração contemporânea – quotidiana, humorada, pueril –, mas nas fábulas sofisticadas em que criaturas filosóficas nos colocam ao espelho.

 June 2016

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