Galerie Langlet, Paris

Mars 2007

Sara Badr Schmidt by Pascal Bruckner

There are individuals who spend their lives waiting : doormen, sentries, watchmen, caretakers, priests or pastors, some for closing time, others for everlasting life, each appointed to this fundamental function for different reasons. Through their presence they testify to what does not yet exist but which one day will occur, as important for the salvation of mankind as what already exists. Sara Badr Schmidt’s canvases, particularly the most recent ones, belong in this category : in her work we always find a chair, sofa or armchair, empty and available, inviting us to settle down, to sit before making room for others. The chair awaits the passer-by in the same way as the painting awaits the visitor who through it will get back in touch with his inner self. It invites repose, a welcoming absence, a stage on a journey that never finishes.

This waiting is not painful or impatient, it is calm. Sara Badr Schmidt has a summarizing approach to painting : she goes back in time, encountering both the abstract and the figurative, experimenting with collage, sprinkling her works with poems by Prévert and ironic or poetic phrases. This revisiting of styles is not only playful, it is also educational : Sara Badr Schmidt “summarizes” so as to be able to create in her turn and find her own path. She shows a desire to include everything as art, mixing shapes, colours, remarks and materials, even the most trivial and unexpected of these, such as oilcloth : writing and drawing exchange their prerogatives, contradicting and reinforcing each other.

One is sometimes reminded of haiku or koan zen which escape meaning, rejecting explanation, stating themselves and refusing to be resumed. This dialogue, as I have said, is free of aggression and hysteria. Her paintings question without provoking, inviting the viewer with humour and tact, showing a confidence in art rare today.

Sara Badr Schmidt’s universe is possibly mysterious, but it is free from anxiety. This is mystery in daylight, the most disturbing form no doubt, full of false obviousness and pseudo-simplicity.

The symbols she uses, eyes, birds, peacocks or bicycles, add a dreamlike dimension, but one that is never threatening. The artist makes her confession. These confessions do not tell us anything about her: she exposes herself without admitting anything, creating an enigmatic ambiance in which we can all recognize ourselves. The pastel or pale colours show a disposition naturally benevolent towards life. We can possibly find here the influence of her Oriental background and interest in Buddhism. Her paintings are made not just to be looked at but also to be meditated. There is nothing to understand, everything to be experienced.

Even when seated, her characters appear to be flying, to be landing or taking off, born in an endless present by an elevated imagination. They appear to be beings floating in the expectation of some renaissance or metamorphosis. In her canvases Sara Badr Schmidt achieves a quality rare in painting and one which gives these works their charm : serenity in suspension.

Pascal Bruckner, French philosopher and author