Drawing from romanticism, fashion magazines, soft porn and a wide range of positions regarding the notion of queerness, Schoeler’s portrait paintings come across as unusually personal, in stark contrast to the politically-socially loaded painting Germany produced in the last decades. The same personal investment can be seen in his language (understanding it as pictorial resources or his choice of subject matter). A language that can be observed under the light of psychoanalytic theory, and more specifically, Lacan’s readings on hysteria and the field of speech. From this vantage point, Schoeler’s vocabulary wanders through obsession and hysteria in equal dimensions, resolving then the typical opposition given to both terms.
The obsessive element would be the repetition, the longing, the excess in which he revels, enduring his own production and conferring his subjects a position of need (one understands that these guys are needed by Schoeler and in turn consumed avidly by his own gaze). The hysterical angle of his production would be located in his interest in the body and the reality of a hysterical symptom, in which language would be manifest and deciphered as an inscription that once recovered can be destroyed without serious loss, because of the dialectic established by the obsessive/hysterical components. His guys are precious yet replaceable, by the next guy or the next field of paint. Like fashion models, they are transient and in constant flux; but as memory, they can be replaced by the following set of events, yet hardly erased.
His approach to portraiture is then, emotionally and libidinally infused, establishing relationships with the works of Hernan Bas, Elizabeth Peyton, Rainer Fetting, as well as with prominent art nouveau photographers Willhem von Gloedden and Fred Holland Day among others. The element of androgyny that situates Schoeler’s production within this lineage allows for a rich semantic reading, since the very duality implied by androgyny renders his subjects politically charged yet strangely neutral, even generic. The generic capacity is crucial to understand their exchangeability as signs, and their proliferation in an enclosed vocabulary that feeds itself in a circular motion.
A text by Diego Singh.