How a House will look if it’s a Painting, not an actual House?


Egon Schiele, “Façade of a House”, 1914

These or similar questions might have arisen in Schiele’s intuition when he noticed a house which we‘ll never know how it looked.

We automatically assume that the painted looks either is copy or resembles the object as it exists in reality or at least has an unambiguous connection with what it is in “real life”. Even modified by the particularity of the artistic style the painted subject still can be perceived by us as being a loyal reaction of the painter to what he saw in the “real” world. In other words, we see the painting not as a reincarnation of the external object but as its continuation even if some modifications have been introduced by the artist in his representation.

Egon Schiele saw a house. But what did he really see there, on the ground, between the sky and earth? Isn’t seeing the house can essentially mean seeing it in the minds of the people who imagined, constructed and build it, like to see a landscape can basically mean to see it in the “mind” of god or nature?

In this sense Schiele didn’t see a house as a real place where people lived, fed themselves, rested and reproduced. What he saw was how some people inside a certain tradition of inhabiting the space and settling in the world saw the place where they could live. What Schiele saw was something like a sketch or drawing of the place people liked to see as their dwelling (like today’s artistic installations are made of the ready-made materials), the project of a house that can protect the human bodies from the roughness of nature and the indifference of the skies. And it seems he didn’t like the dullness and rudeness of what he saw, of the approximate quality and the generic characteristic of the design.

According to Schiele’s intuition, the anthropological ideas of a house which were objectified into a concrete place of inhabitation, and the human architectural imagination about it were crude and primitive, with hardly any artistic elegance or spiritual grace. He probably felt that the taste of the backs and thighs, buttocks and the bellies and elbows and heels have prevailed in forming ideas about the house over the taste of the human soul. And he decided to make a correction – to transform the painting of a house into the house of the painting. He wanted to transform the vulgarity of living into a sublimity of creativity: snore, fart and belch into spiritual contemplation, and the sweaty life into visionary creativity. He wanted to transform living into a painting.

By painting his “Façade of a House” Schiele as if has forced human beings who were for thousands of years inventing and re-inventing how to settle in the world, to become exceptional, spiritual painters who will not compromise with reality and will not dissolve the sublime spirits of imagination in the prosaic waters of everyday survival. Schiele teaches us to recognize our sublime subjectivity as the father of the reality of our life and our civilization.

The house becomes a painting as it always was, except for now it became a unique (with the power of reincarnating reality) painting of Egon Schiele, house of painting, painting as a house that he forces viewers to accept and to wonder about the creative power of human specie.

Schiele forces us to dwell in the painting, to live and reproduce inside art, and to resurrect with him while we look at and experience his paintings.

The house becomes a dwelling place for our aesthetic needs. This house of art is a strange creature – simultaneously a human artifact and yet with its own will and frame of reference and with its own unique spiritual genetics. To understand it better we have to ask it to take us aboard. The real house – petrified or transformed into wood, is spatially limited, while house as painting always goes outside of any frame. It has several roofs and asymmetrical windows which are outworn, alive and sloppy (you cannot see in them anything except the painting). This building made of lines, colors and unpredictability is a roof for the skies, the blue horizon for the earth, the walls like skin, and windows for the landscapes to look inside like at mirrors. Art balances internalities and externalities and multiplies the systems of coordinates.