Romero Schuler’s early expressionistic paintings have been compared to Jean Dubuffet and Willem de Kooning, while her recent work is influenced by Susan Rothenberg, Michel Nedjar and Maryann Kolb. The content and execution of her abstract female figures, however, sets her apart from all others. Romero Schuler captures the complexity of modern femininity and explores the many dynamic facets of the human spirit including power, vulnerability, resilience, spirituality, beauty and imperfection; yet her art also projects a deliberate optimism with the aim of inspiring her viewers with hope, fortitude and, ultimately, strength. Her approach is personal yet universal, and profoundly intimate. The female figures she captures are equal parts self-portraiture and portraits of a range of human emotions. Her work is visually and emotionally affecting and powerfully reveals her appreciation for the struggle and triumph of the human condition. Of late, Romero Schuler has focused more introspectively to reveal work that speaks to feminist and societal issues that resonate with her.
Whether on canvas, paper or three-dimensional sculpture, Romero Schuler studies the relationship between what is immediately apparent at the surface and what exists beneath. A self-taught artist, she applies layers of oil paint using a palette knife. Her technique involves harnessing textural strata of paint, palette scratches and bold colors to stress the inherent tension between surface and depth. Romero Schuler’s current style can be described as a controlled abstract expressionism wedded with a pop culture sensibility that is uniquely her own.
Romero Schuler shares her artistic talent and passion by teaching at the Illinois Institute of Art and Chicago City Colleges and lecturing at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. Her art is on display in public collections in Chicago, including inside the Prudential Building, the Chanel boutique at Neiman Marcus, Hyatt Hotels and in the permanent archives at the Art Institute of Chicago. Romero Schuler’s work has exhibited internationally, most recently in Rome and Paris, and continues to be permanently represented in the United States and in Paris.
A book, René Romero Schuler: Life and Works, showcasing images of the artist’s thick impastos, striking figural canvases and sculptures, was released in 2013 and provides readers with a look into her artistic process.
Notable patrons, Silicon Valley CEOs and television personalities are among Romero Schuler’s collectors here and abroad. She extends her passion for art as a board member of the Loyola University Museum of Art by curating exhibits and avidly procuring a personal collection of fine art.
My work reflects my childhood feelings of isolation, and has become an outward expression of some of my deepest emotions. The minimal and contemplative paintings of lone figures in a vast emptiness express these complex and intense emotions. These works have become my way of making peace with myself, and the world around me.
The human figure is the vehicle with which I can most relate. I am overwhelmed with fascination and curiosity about the solitude and mystery of human beings, but also their resilience and strength. I try to express this through my technique. I don’t approach the canvas with a particular image in my mind. Rather, I begin with color. I apply layer after layer of paint, focusing on the forces beneath the surface—the dread, the frenzy, isolation, fear, separation, love, intimacy, hope, humor, and whimsy. Through this, an image begins to form (albeit in my mind, perhaps). I then build and embellish this form and allow it do develop into being. I use the palette knife as my primary tool, because it allows for a greater sense of freedom in the overall sense of the figure. There are no fine characteristics, or clearly defined attributes. These figures are “everyone” and “no one”. They are stripped to their most essential elements…their most basic form.
I have always loved to draw and color and create, and was very enthusiastically praised by many teachers and peers as I grew up. My plan to become an artist was a foregone conclusion. It’s all I have ever planned to do, and it’s all I have done.
I sold my first paintings while I was in high school. Right out of high school, I started my first business. I called local companies from the Yellow Pages, and asked if they needed any paintings for their offices or lobbies. I certainly got more no’s than yes’s, but I got my start. The commissions I received became more and more varied, and soon my business turned into a bit more of a decorative painting and mural company. I began hiring assistants, and doing bigger and bigger jobs, and incorporating sculpture and mosaics and general design into my repertoire. I assisted scenic companies throughout Chicago, and worked with top restaurant and nightclub design firms.
My work has been featured in numerous publications, including Chicago Social Magazine, Sheridan Road Magazine, Chicago Reader, Chicago Tribune, Nightclub & Bar Magazine, Forest & Bluff Magazine, The Artists’ Magazine and Pioneer Press.