The Errant Schoppe

Acrylic on board, 59.4 x 84 cm. 2021.

An abstract illustration of Jean Paul Richter's novel Titan. Schoppe is friend and mentor to the novel's hero, Albano. A erudite scholar and an incorrigible ironist, his speech is an almost incomprehensible mix of wit, satire and philosophical jargon.

 

As the novel progresses, he becomes increasingly erratic, and reveals to Albano that he is terrified of encountering a physical manifestation of the 'I' - the primordial self which, according to the philosopher Fichte (a contemporary of Jean Paul's) is responsible for the existence of everything in the universe. "One sees this best on journeys," Schoppe says, "when one looks at one's legs, and sees them stride along, and then asks, Who in the world is that marching along so with me down below there? I tell you he is eternally talking with me; if he were once to start up in bodily presence before me, I should not be the last to grow weak and deadly pale."

 

In spite of his fears, Schoppe is committed to unravelling the deceits that surround Albano's life, and journeys far and wide with his trusty wolf-dog in search of evidence. 

The painting is an attempt to evoke the mind of Schoppe as he marches long distances with only his dog for company, surrounded by the grandeur of nature and seeing the sinister 'I', godlike projection of his own self, lurking behind every natural form, threatening to appear and unravel reality.

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