The series Pianos (2004) from the young Belgian artist Judith Schils (Tongeren, 1971) is a marvel of dynamism and a magisterial demonstration of draughtsmanship, that reaches the pinnacle of what can be achieved in this art, unjustifiably considered as a minor art and normally looked down upon as a mere, more or less interesting draft of a more ambitious painting. In this series of series of eighteen drawings, Schils achieves what is most difficult: reaching the kernel of music through the use of some mere traces. Of course, we hear no notes resounding from these lines (only a magician, of which the artist is only a mere reflection would be able to work that wonder), but the mastery and the profound understanding of the expressive character of the line and its nature, through a gradation that leads from the solitary line against a white background to the fierce intensity that ends up in bundles or merges in stains, succeed in worming a secret out of music: its visual projection.

The compositor Dieter Schnebel explored the relations between the visual and the audible in his work "Musik zum Lesen" (1978), through the capacity of musical notation to suggest music. Very different - and much more artistic - is the path of Schils, that departs from the physical representation of the piano (and not from the more obvious musical signs, nor from "musical typography' like Schnebel) with the same objective. The secret lies in movement, in the rhythm evoked by the line and its conglomerates. As if the imprint of the movement of a pianist would remain in the air after a memorable concert. Or, better still, as if the piano would lead its own life, showing, in some of the paintings, the intimate and withdrawn character of its resounding, and, in others (in the last ones), its orchestral grandeur. We cannot but be reminded of the delicate sound of a Mozart or a Shubert (say, his Impromptus nº3, Op. 90) in the beginning of the series, until, over Chopin, we arrive at Beethoven, Liszt, Ligeti or Messiaen in the last ones. Those diverse kinds of music, or the musical character which underlies them, are conjured up through the line, the perspective and the deformation of the keyboard. In her work, Schils is a heir to Kandinsky (the musicality of the line) and to Bacon (the expressive intensity of deformation). With his usual rigor and intelligence, Stefan Beyst has written a referential text to this magnificent work.

Vladimir García Morales in 'Avanzando', 10/10/2006

vladimir garcia morales
stefan beyst