Academy Prize for Astronomy and Art awarded to Roland Schimmel's 'Black Sun'

2 June 2015

Artist Roland Schimmel’s 2010 work Black Sun has won the first Academy Prize for Astronomy and Art. The prize, 5000 euros, was established by the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Society of Arts. It is intended for an artist who has created a work that is clearly inspired by astronomy.

About Roland Schimmel

Roland Schimmel (born in 1954) is an artist and teaches at the Minerva Academy in Groningen. His recent oeuvre consists of paintings, large-scale murals, installations and videos. As an artist, he is interested in examining the physical and neurological origins of movement and the perception of light. Schimmel’s works are always a physical experience. For example, he paints ‘after-images’, the colour spots and halos that remain on the retina after looking at the sun. His purpose is to capture the experience of an ‘intriguing feeling of powerlessness.’ Black suns, black holes and eclipses are recurring elements in Schimmel’s work. In his recent murals The Innocent Body (2014, Van Abbe Museum) and The Innocent Mind (2013, Dordtyard), he manipulates viewers’ perceptions and has sunlight itself play a central role.

Black Sun, 2010, acrylic on canvas, 100 x 125 cm

Schimmel studied art in Arnhem and has taught at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy, the Royal Academy of Arts, and the art academies in Arnhem and Enschede. He has taught at the Minerva Academy in Groningen since 1996. He has exhibited at the Boijmans van Beuningen Museum in Rotterdam (2006), the Culturgest Museum in Porto (2007), the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam (2008), and the Van Abbe Museum in Eindhoven (2012, 2014).

About the work

Black Sun is reminiscent of black holes, halos and eclipses. Although it is inadvisable to watch a natural solar eclipse with the naked eye, here viewers are encouraged to ‘blind’ themselves by staring at the painting’s black circle against a light background. That brings about a physical reflex in which the eye/brain projects circles in the complementary colour on the painting. The after-image in this case consists of bright dots that blend in with the painted composition, producing a spontaneous spectacle of universal forms that emerge and then fade away. The special strength of Black Sun is that artistic illusion coincides with visual perception, leading to a clarifying sense of confusion.

Award ceremony and exhibition

The award ceremony will take place on 11 September 2015 at the Oude Sterrewacht Leiden, Kaiserstraat 63 / Sterrenwachtlaan 11 in Leiden. The ceremony begins at 4 p.m. An exhibition devoted to Schimmel’s work and the work of the other Academy Prize nominees will be held at the same location from 11 September to 2 October.


Download Black Sun in high resolution (jpg).