Known for his trompe-l’oeil works that hybridize painting and sculptural techniques, Schubert expands on his most recent series of paintings - perforated and adorned works made entirely from bronze and copper. These works, born of a deep dive into the history of western art, draw on many disparate sources, from Masaccio’s Crucifixion and Caravaggio’s Doubting St. Thomas, to Francis Bacon’s enigmatic Three Figures… and Barnett Newman’s secularized. Stations of the Cross. Schubert approaches and borrows from these works not as a believer, but as a sympathizer: for the shared goal of art to speak to the human condition, and as one voice in the long history of such an enterprise.
Many of the works are reminiscent of the compositional symmetry and symbolic organization of religious altarpieces, retaining what Schubert sees as the “arrangement of specific purpose” while replacing the symbolic characteristics of these works with quotidian and vaguely scatological elements. Working with extensively with jewelers in New York’s Midtown Diamond District, the adornments are painstakingly cast from the same bronze and copper metal alloys as the supporting painting, making the works entirely monochromatic and transforming and redeeming the degraded objects they are modeled after.
Washcloths and lengths of rope appear to plug up or thread through the works punctures, while material that gives the appearance of being both solid and liquid floods into and out of the passages, giving an interior life to the work and imparting an unsettling function and meaning to the body of the painting. The resulting works, with their polished surfaces, Judd-like industrial precision, and contrasting adornments of wear, decay, and discharges are an unsettling meditation on the history of art, our shared circumstances, and the power and plausibility of art to embody the human condition.