The Latin root, sublimis means “uplifted, high or exalted.”
Douglas Schneider’s paintings blend crisp realism with dream-like abstraction, conjuring an enigmatic world. His new exhibition centers on the sublime, an idea that has intrigued philosophers from the ancient Greeks to Kant, Hegel and beyond—but that always has to do with a difficult-to-describe feeling of awe and the transcendence of everyday life. The Latin root, sublimis, means uplifted, high or exalted. When something is sublime, Schneider explains, “it transcends greatness, or beauty for the observer, like a deeply moving film or a transcendent piece of music. So when something is truly wonderful, or when someone acts in a truly noble way, it’s an example of sublimity.”
In his recent paintings, ballet dancers, a favorite subject, express the sublime with their bodies. Cavernous rooms suggest spaces that surpass comprehension. A woman gazes into abstract darkness as if on the brink of something, while light falls on her upswept hair. Schneider builds his paintings through a process of improvisation and excavation, guided by intuition and memory. He pulls images from historical photographs and documentary films as well as from his own life and his collections of everything from vintage toys to Life magazines to books on birds—an eclectic archive that contributes to the language of his paintings.
In its integration of representation and abstract expressionism, Schneider’s work recalls pioneering artists from James Rosenquist to Gerhard Richter. Like the post-Pop artists David Salle and Lari Pittman, he fearlessly blends styles, periods, influences and inspirations. His work is included in the collection of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Fisher Collection, the Anderson Collection and others, and has been exhibited internationally. Educated at the California College of Arts and Art Center, Pasadena, he lives and works in Oakland.