Schmersal is known for his expressive reworking of the traditional genres of the still life, landscape, portrait and self-portrait, in which he engages in a compelling contemporary dialogue with the masterworks of western narrative painting. Appropriating and reinventing familiar themes and motifs from the Baroque to the present, Schmersal creates his compositions with a gestural language entirely his own.
Oscillating on the border between representation and abstraction, Schmersal’s figurative subjects often float within atmospheric colour fields, transcending the confines of a fixed narrative, or familiar viewpoint. This removal or realignment of historical references allows the artist to ‘re-organize’ the borrowed figure, capturing the essence of the contemporary human form, and related objects, through his expression of colour and movement. His application of a variety of experimental painterly techniques brings visceral tension to the painted surface, from liquefied washes of pure colour to vigorous gestural brushwork. Paintings by artists such as Rubens, Baldung Grien, Goya and Ingres have served as the catalysts for many of his recent works.