Surface precision, veneration and submission to the material as well as physicality are constants yet also parameters of change in the new works by Toni Schmale (b. 1980 in Hamburg, lives and works in Vienna).
Whereas her sculptures formerly made an offer to the viewer of what can be done with them, now, as a substitute for this, an action occurs. In the dialogue between the artist and the hard materials – often unyielding yet always with the hope of coercion – scarcely any trace of this dialogue is left behind on the works. The bent pipes, kinked slabs and balancing concrete blocks conceal their own, inner function – an own will – by means of the grinding, polishing, burnishing and sandblasting and their interdependent manner of construction. The material is alienated from its industrial normalization, it is overstretched, folded and buckled. Neither inflexibility nor weightiness influence the works at the end of the process. In 2015 Silvia Eiblmayr wrote fittingly that the artist already activates the fantasy of the observer with her titles, and that these, by opening up imaginary spaces, “become entangled, so to speak, in the works' perfectionistic aesthetic of metal construction and of concrete. Narrow sculptures oscillate between everyday object, tool, machine, furniture or architectural detail, and they are none of these. They are far rather abstractions of each of these figures of reference, yet at the same time they are highly specific in their precision and their materiality which gets under one's skin, and which is accompanied by an extraordinary, intractable sensuousness.”1
Toni Schmale’s forms develop a physicality which can be humourous: fists act as feet, concrete blocks are supported by two L-shaped, wafer-thin steel slabs, a network grid of steel pipes extends itself, almost floating freely, in the room. Certain materials appear soft, light or flexible in spite of their nature; the artist offsets aesthetic- haptic qualities in favour of a formal analysis of proportions, architectonics and perception.