• Shezad Dawood - The Double Life of Arthur Schnitzler
  • 02.10-14.11.2015 

Galerie Gabriel Rolt is proud to announce The double life of Arthur Schnitzler Shezad Dawood’s third solo show with the gallery. 

In turn-of-the-last-century Vienna, Dr. Sigmund Freud went to great lengths to avoid ever meeting the celebrated Austrian playwright Arthur Schniztler, as he felt that actually meeting this, his intellectual doppelganger, might have fatal consequences.

Schnitzler in turn was to have his late novella Traumnovelle, or Dream Story adapted by Kubrick into his last film Eyes Wide Shut, starring at the time real-life husband-and-wife Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, as a couple torn apart by the husband’s erotic double-life.

Max Ophuls 1950 iconic film La Ronde, was also based on an earlier work by Schnitzler, the 1897 play Reigen, which consists of ten interlocking scenes between pairs of lovers, with each partner appearing in 2 consecutive scenes and therefore creating a sequence of sexual encounter played out across class lines and against the backdrop of a syphilis pandemic in Vienna.

It is hard to say who was more influential on whom, but Freud after keeping a safe distance until the age of 66, wrote the following in a letter to Schnitzler:

I have gained the impression that you have learnt through intuition – though actually as a result of sensitive introspection – everything that I have had to unearth by laborious work on other persons.

For his solo show at Galerie Gabriel Rolt, Shezad Dawood takes his conceptual starting point from an imaginary letter that he likes to think that Schnitzler might have written back to Freud:

Dear Dr. Freud,

I should like to thank you for the numerous impulses I have found in your work. The Interpretation of Dreams in particular, in its illustration of the inherent sexual pathology of the bourgeois, has afforded me much amusement. 

But perhaps your desire to avoid our meeting, represents something of this pathology too, and takes too seriously the affect of the waking state? Rather fear Schadenfreude than your double revealing the fragility of the house of cards that is the human mind. As our Russian friend would have it: