The images of dark, wet, empty nighttime urban streets are haunting, populated by power lines and the harsh light of an uncovered street lamp. However, the canvas that German artist Lena Schmidt uses are pieces of found wood,
which she then scratches with a thin knife to come up with her cityscapes—all of that eerie light, the brick facades, the watery streets are created by scraping, all in tones of off-white and black. They are amazing works.
Schmidt is one of two artists highlighted in the latest show at the new space opened by several artists from the graffiti collective Primary Flight (Typoe, Books IIII Bischof and Chris O) in the Design District, this one called “Lucid.” She had in fact worked here in Miami with a Fountainhead residency, so some of her scenes are of Miami avenues, along with those of her native Hamburg. She and the other artist Evan Robarts use found objects to create their work, which is the tie-in to the graffiti aesthetic. Robarts, a native of Miami who now makes New York his home, has a sculpture made of empty gas canisters or tanks, for example, and another from soccer balls. In the center is a huge installation from Schmidt, a circular scratched wood piece that engulfs the visitor. Schmidt calls her artworks urbanscapes—they refer to places that generate themselves from nonplaces, she says, from the transit zones of the city, traffic interchanges, road systems, crossroads and deserted old industrial brick buildings.
This is a large space that can incorporate a lot, and fortunately in its short lifespan it has done so, and done so very well. There is a keen eye for layout and placement here, and the results have been impressive. For its inaugural during the last Art Basel, the Primary Projects space tucked back in the 4141 Building featured Retna, his unique symbols painted all over the floors, walls, ceiling. This show, like that one, should not be missed. It’s adding a new and exciting voice to the gallery vocabulary.