Jack Shainman New York
The title of the show comes from a poem by Elizabeth Bishop that has resonated with Schreuders for some time -
Close, close all night
the lovers keep
They turn together,
in their sleep …
Close, Close is a continuation of a narrative that began with The Fall, an earlier group of work exploring the trajectory of a couple’s relationship using biblical imagery. Close, Close continues the couple’s story by delving into the complexities of family life. Where Schreuders’ work previously consisted mostly of single figures, these sculptures predominantly include two or more figures carved from a single block of wood. In Eclipse a mother holds up her baby so that he can see and be seen, obscuring herself from the viewer. In One a father considers with both love and detachment an infant grasping his legs. The vein connecting these works is the idea of the individual being threatened by the very thing he or she desires. For Schreuders, the craving for children and motherhood holds many of these contradictions.
Schreuders calls upon family photographs and literature as source material, exploring her personal experience as a white descendent of colonial settlers in Apartheid-era South Africa. While many of the works in Close, Close plumb the depths of individual emotion, Schreuders also approaches the realities of South African racial relationships and the way they permeate family life, as in Abba, where a black woman carries a white baby on her back. Further, the distinct form that Schreuders employs is inspired by the traditional “Colon,” sculptural portraits of European colonists made by West African artists as a manifestation of ancestor worship. Ultimately, Schreuders’ figures are vessels for themes of isolation, alienation, and dislocation. Smaller than life-sized, they manipulate proportion and scale, implying vulnerability, and even a sense of paranoia. They carry an emotional and transcendental “otherness” – at once hauntingly real and deceptively fictionalised surrogates for human emotions.