Born in 1942 in Stolp, Pomerania, Jörg Schmeisser grew up in Hamburg (Germany). He studied art at the Hochschule für Bildende Künste in Hamburg and in Kyoto from 1962-1968 and joined the International Design Institute in Kyoto 1969-71. From 1972-78 he taught screen printing in Hamburg. He travelled widely and joined archaeological campaigns in Israel and Greece before moving to Australia to teach print graphics at the Canberra School of Art.
After 1998 he spent time at the Australian research stations in Mawson and Davis in the Antarctic. The ensuing etchings, drawings and paintings have been exhibited in Australia, Japan, USA and Germany (Breaking the Ice, Tasmania Museum and Gallery, 2003, exhibition catalogue).
In the 1970s Schmeisser travelled widely in South and East Asia. His etchings of Ladakh in 1984 grace the book Land of Passes, 1986 (Cologne: Wienand Verlag). Only once, in 1971, did he come to Nepal for a couple of days. Two etchings of the Kathmandu Valley bear witness to his specific gift for capturing atmosphere with narrative resources.
The three objects in the foreground, a miniature Shikara Temple (probably from Sundhara in Deopatan), the front view of a guardian lion and a bicycle rickshaw tell us stories that apparently have nothing in common. Then in the centre comes the Navayogini Temple (known as Shiva / Parvati Temple) on Kathmandu’s Durbar Square, flanked by thee triple-tiered temples. Behind this row of buildings some ten-tiered structures are indicated, with Patan’s Degutale Temple almost in the centre and Bhaktapur’s Vatsala Temple in Shikara style to its left – reaching the middle section of the etching where lines become faint, almost vanishing in the light of day. A number of awesome deities and a dancing girl populate the middle ground, while seven erotic scenes capture details of the bottom ends of struts supporting the lower roof of the tiered temples.
Another Shikara Temple occupies the centre of the upper third of the etching, to its right the Narayan Temple of Changu, to its left the Krishna Temple and Kasthamandap of Kathmandu’s Durbar Square. In the upper left corner we see Swayambhū Hill with the pinnacle of the Mahacaitya flanked by two Shikara temples. A silhouette of pinnacles and roofs appears against the dark-ling sky, suggesting that the entire scene represents the complete course of one day, starting at dawn at the bottom, moving up through the noontide and finally being swallowed up by night.
Schmeisser’s work is found in prominent collections worldwide, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Kunsthalle Hamburg, Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris and the Cincinnati Museum of Art.
Jörg Schmeisser passed away in June 2012, a few days after he had dedicated the etching of the Valley to the Documentation Centre in Taragaon.