"We cannot step into the same river twice..." The insight from the Greek philosopher, Heraclitus is also true of our perception of colours today. We never see the same thing twice. Our brain always receives portions of reality."
As long as I can remember, I have been doing art. When I was growing up in post-war Germany, shortage of materials to produce anything creative limited my choice of medium. So my earliest drawings were made with pieces of charcoal on the backside of old wall paper torn out of buildings about to be repaired or rebuilt.
Growing up on my grandfather's small farm near Heidelberg during and after the war left me with indelible memories. While we always had enough to eat, I saw people begging for food at our door. My grandfather gave them a place at the table. By the time I started studying art, my thoughts and feelings about life and art were permanently affected by these early experiences and were shaped by a moral sense rooted in compassion and guided by a sense of justice.
In the mid-sixties when the air was thick with smoke from fiery talk about art and its role in Germany, like many I struggled for an answer. What should be a positive role for an artist in Germany after the catastrophe? How could art help clear up the rubble in our hearts and minds? Was it possible that art could help weave a social fabric based on justice? Because a positive view of aesthetics is so life affirming, for me engaging in the creative process was a political act. My belief in this possibility remains alive to this day.
As I worked more and more with colour, its essence intrigued me. My sense of colour, I think, is influenced by music. Like music, colour has a complex effect on our perception. It has its particular syntax and employs a vast spectrum to express joy passionately. I am a visual person, but I experience music when I work with colour to communicate what I see and feel – in a non-verbal way, like movements in a dance. Bach and Beethoven are with me when I work with colour. Focus on colour is a way to see the world with different eyes - to 'see' freely with colour, unencumbered by symbols of various ideologies.
Maybe human beings' oldest positive colour experience is the spectacle of sunrise and sunset. This daily light show leaves an enduring stamp on our perception of colour and our ability to sense and imagine its effect. This global phenomenon is a source of shared wonder and joy.
Colour and a sense of wonder in nature helps me develop a positive view of aesthetics.
Hermann Valentin Schmitt
Born 1943 in Heidelberg; lives and works in Berlin, Germany, and Victoria, Canada.
Studies in Art
1965 - 1971
Studies in Free Painting with Professor Sonderborg, Staatliche Akademie der Bildenden Künste, Stuttgart, Germany and with Howard Hodgkin, Bath Academy of Art, Corsham Court, UK.
Höllische Farben im Paradiso, Studio Berlin
2016 - 2018
Berlin Summer Studio Shows also with Inselglück, Galerie Nord, Berlin
Sturm in der Amygdala, Shell-Haus: GASAG, Berlin
2004 - 2005
Painting The New (Farbarbeiten und Lichtinstallation), UBS Stuttgart
Der Farbenkosmos des Hermann Valentin Schmitt, Galerie des Staatsarchives, Baden Würtemberg und in der Sparkasse, Ludwigsburg
1999 - 2000
Hermann Valentin Schmitt: Farbarbeiten, Kunstsammlungen der Veste Coburg
Roundtable 5, Art Auction, Berlin
Ausstellungsprojekt der Deutsch-Japanischen Gesellschaft: Tokyo (SUMIDA River Hall, Veranstaltungshalle im Rathaus des Stadtbezirks Taito-ku)
Ausstellungsprojekt der Deutsch-Japanischen Gesellschaft: Berlin (Schloss Charlottenburg)
Ausstellungsprojekt der Deutsch-Japanischen Gesellschaft: Tokyo (Tokyo Metropolitan Art Space)
Roundtable 5, Art Auction, Berlin
Asien-Pazifik-Woche, Cicero Galerie und Senat von Berlin
2007 - 2008
Coming Closer, Thai-Deutsches Ausstellungsprojekt, Nationalgalerie Bangkok, Lichthof des Auswärtigen Amtes Berlin, Rathaus Stuttgart
Baustelle Berlin: Zehn Jahre Transformation und Modernisierung, Ostbahnhof, Berlin
Türkis und Azur-Kunstprojekt, Universität Gh Kassel
2016 - 2022
Course Instructor: Exploring Colour and Eyes Wide Shut: Drawing What We Imagine, Division of Continuing Studies, University of Victoria, BC