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As a keen observer of his generation, Schrader confronts such timely topics as the preoccupation with the self and the ability to participate in society. “I’m interested in how my generation understands concepts such as freedom and happiness, how parameters of human coexistence shift.” Schrader’s paintings deal with individualism and the refusal of the world beyond mere rebellion. The protagonists of his images are Unknown Legends, daydreamers, Narcissists, and clown figures—anti-heroes who, as Schrader admits, “wait and persist, while the world around them hails down.” A recurring motif in his paintings is the paper crown that represents the oblomov-ishly weak will of the person wearing it. These are “very lonesome kings who only administer a small empire consisting of their own selves.”

Sebastian Schrader’s work radiates an intensity reminiscent of the Old Masters. In it, the drama of chiaroscuro meets content that is, at times, lacking any drama at all. A composition of forgotten objects, for example, references Vanitas still lifes without containing any moral plea. The resulting gap, in turn, becomes his subject. Representational and abstract in equal measure, Schrader’s painting can be seen at the intersection of reality and imagination, as well as objectivity and subjectivity. In the same way, his subjects are not only sunk within, but also stand apart from themselves.

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