Hank Schmidt in der Beek: The artist who visits the backdrops of iconic works just to paint the pattern of his shirt

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Combining multiple disciplines is a difficult task for any artist, never mind when it requires subverting and deconstructing every single one of them. That being said, Hank Schmidt in der Beek has turned it into an art form of its own, with hilarious results.

Since 2009, Hank and creative partner Fabian Schubert have been adding to their ‘Und im Sommer tu ich malen’ project, which roughly translates as ‘And in the Summer I do paint’. It’s art, photography, travel, postmodernism, and comedy all rolled into one, making them a self-reflexive duo unlike any other.

The project originated in 2009 when the pair went hiking in the Austrian Alps, with designs on stopping to breathe in the scenery and paint the landscapes. However, in a flourish of inspiration that quickly captured the attention and imagination of the art world, Hank and Schubert instead decided to approach some of the most iconic locations in the art world with a decidedly unique flourish.

The backdrops to famous paintings have become tourist destinations and pilgrimage sites in their own right, but ‘And in the Summer I do paint’ took things to a new level of metatextuality. Hank sets up his canvas in front of a location that inspired a well-known work of art, but instead paints the pattern of whatever shirt he’s wearing on the day. Schubert photographs the process and its postmodernism on several levels.

They’ve touched down at vistas previously taken in by Paul Cezanne, Claude Monet, Vincent Van Gogh, and Ferdinand Hodler, opting to completely ignore what’s right in front of them in favour of painting something that’s even closer still. Described as being an “homage to modernist painting and conceptual art,” Hank offered a more blunt assessment of the continental odyssey: “Basically, I paint whatever my wardrobe offers me.”

It began with a realisation, though, after the artist realised that he wouldn’t be the first or the last to stand in the spot where he stood to find themself overcome with the urge to paint. Instead of taking the macro approach, Hank settled on the micro and became a favourite among those who like their modern art to have its tongue placed delicately into the cheek.

“He was with his medium format camera to take some photographs, me with some canvases and an easel to make some paintings,” he explained per It’s Nice That of the moment he and Schubert had their brainwave. “Confronted with the immenseness of the mountains and the littleness of my canvasses, I decided to paint what’s nearest to me instead of what’s afield and giant.”

For decades if not centuries, aspiring artists have touched base with the places their heroes once created in the hopes of experiencing a similar burst of inspiration. While that’s very much true of Hank, Schubert, and their ongoing experimentalism, nobody’s done it quite like this before.

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