Text: Elias Tezapsids
“Within Reach” are Lola Montes Schnabel's most recent works, currently on display at Tripoli Gallery in New York. The theme linking Schnabel’s oeuvre is the modern limitability dictated by human consciousness, including the antithetical instincts birthed by the unconscious: the desire to be where the limit does not exist; to conquer infinity. The infinite freedom this young Schnabel has given herself in creating a semiotic link between her oil paintings and watercolors is indicative of an admirable artistic audacity.
On the third floor of 980 Madison, the exhibit is elevated to art-show mythopoeia: it's fun. Around 7pm the evening of the opening, Ms. Schnabel was making faces at me and sticking her tongue out from a corner near the bar. Maintaining our rapport as strangers, she faked intensity to call me out on my seriousness—and got a genuine smile out of it. Schnabel is an irresistible party persona who appears to have found the right balance between the uptown aspirations she might have abided to and the downtown self-deprecation she could not escape. She exudes the enthusiasm of a persona grata in the artworld microcosm. Undeniably, the artist’s playful behavior does its part in generating press, as if her last name didn’t suffice. It would be hypocritical to pretend that the mainstream recognizability of the Schnabel name has not served a purpose in helping Lola find a meaningful audience from an early age. Not all of us were in the position to publish an Artforum book with a parent at seven. But despite the transparent infrastructure that buttresses Lola’s career, she is curious about topics of substance, in a traditional artistic sense. Schnabel does not have answers to the questions by which she is so consumed, and she does not even attempt to resolve them in her work. Schnabel might be saying too much without taking an absolute stance, yet she might also be saying nothing at all in a discursive fashion. “Looking at a painting presents a chance to stop thinking," she states.
Even in the absence of Schnabel’s definitive answers, her ample self-confidence constitutes a delphic augur: it could morph into the artist’s largest constraint, as she inevitably never doubted herself while attempting to attain an audience. It could also prove to be her biggest weapon in her prospective creative endeavors. Even if to look at a painting presents a chance to stop thinking, to create one certainly calls for cognition. Schnabel’s referencing of an Antonioni film, Il Deserto Rosso, to describe the vivid colors of her red skies would not surprise those familiar with the wide range of mediums in which she produces. Was her comparative choice a strategically arcane enough reference? Certainly not, as Ms Schnabel is too fun to succumb to such conscientious linearities.
Speaking of lines, many attendents at the opening were from longly prominent ones, including her own family, the Brant brothers, the Roitfelds—plus artworld bigshots like Jonas Mekas and Knight Landesman and fashion stars like Zac Posen and Diane Von Furstenberg.