David Schmitt

Discovering the Timeless and Primitive Art of Tuyo: A Look into the Work of Self-Taught Printmaker David Schmitt

David Schmitt, better known by his artist name Tuyo, is a self-taught printmaker from Germany who has been making waves in the art world with his unique and captivating primitivist style. Schmitt draws his inspiration from a variety of sources, including self-taught artists like Bill Traylor and contemporary painters like Emma Larsson. He is also deeply fascinated by the similarities in visual language across different cultures and ages, and he incorporates this fascination into his work.

Schmitt's art is characterized by a childlike curiosity and aesthetic, which he believes helps him to engage with a world full of wonders. His subjects, while often simple in design, are representational enough for viewers to recognize. Like cave painters of old, Schmitt represents a collective contemporary "now" of faces, cats, flowers, objects, and abstract shapes.

One of the most striking features of Schmitt's work is his use of archaic symbols, which he feels add a timeless aspect to his pieces. His prints could be compared to cave paintings, but with a contemporary twist. Minus the text and more contemporary context, Schmitt's subjects look primitive or prehistoric, with proportions that are often skewed. Yet his work reminds us that nothing is created in a vacuum, and that even the most basic forms are built on forms that originated long before the notion of "art" came into existence.


Schmitt's methods are both analog and digital, using handmade linocut prints on archival paper as well as poster prints with texture added electronically. He prefers to work with a single color, as he feels this restriction allows him to explore the basics of composition and visual storytelling. As he puts it, "if it doesn't work in black and white, it also won't work in color." He also incorporates text and visual jokes into his work, transforming our everyday surroundings into an alternate reality populated by pigeons with six toes, flowers with faces, and animals that have no discernible place in the cycle of evolution. His word-and-picture pairings are often enigmatic, with statements like "the easy way is easy" and "it makes no sense but it does" taking on new meaning when paired with flowers or the face of a bear.

Schmitt's art is a testament to the power of the primitive, the timeless, and the intuitive. His work speaks to the fundamental human experience and reminds us of our connection to the past, present, and future. As he says, "art can be a way to reconnect with our human experience," and with Tuyo's work, that connection is both powerful and profound.

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Photographize granted permission to feature photos by David Schmitt


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