Body Swallows World Aurel Schmidt

Press release

Javier Peres is very pleased to present Aurel Schmidt's first solo exhibition, Body Swallows World, comprised of eight drawings on paper. Here the artist's interest in the abject merges Dutch masters of painting and oddity (such as Willem van Aelst and Otto Marseus van Schrieck) with contemporaries who rummage around the same, inadequate cavity (see Mike Kelley, Kiki Smith, Sean Landers, and, less vitally, the hubristic trouble-shooting of Damien Hirst).


The title of this exhibition comes from Russian philosopher and semiotician

Mikhail Bakhtin:


"The ancestral body…constantly swings between death and rebirth,
the one always incorporating the other. There are no boundaries or
limits between the grotesque body and the world: the grotesque body…is a
body in the act of becoming. It is never finished, never completed …. Moreover,
the body swallows the world and is itself swallowed by the world."
(Bakhtin: 'Rabelais and His World' 1968, 317)


Exhibited works inflect Bakhtin's notion of gross omni-consumption with welcome Romanticism. In Medusa, a delicate pencil composition of snakes reinterpreting Venus de Milo, the subject seems to be constricted by its own slimy skin at the same time that it could explode outward in piecemeal volatility. The whole and its parts threaten each other equally, and yet the art object is able to house the feud.


Redolent of Italian Renaissance painter Giuseppe Arcimboldo's composite oil curiosities, Schmidt's Jackolantern-like series of portraits reveals extant beauty in even the most commonly vile examples of an organism's decay. Larvae, shit, cockroaches and half-masticated bones join with the tawdry debris of the man-made: used condoms, cigarette butts, lost change, a deli matchbook. Swarms of material depicted in these works mimic humanity's brief, pressed-together desperation, and then the artist throws pepto-pink frosted donuts on top – lest gluttony be omitted! We feed only to expel. And relish where we can.

Aurel Schmidt was born in 1982 in Kamloops, British Columbia. She lives and works in New York City.

Installation Shots