A young girl lies on a large bed in an elegantly furnished room, with legs bare, a breast exposed, and only her pet Spaniel to protect what remains of her modesty. A porcelain, sickly sweet beauty, she presents an image of utter vulnerability, Pre-Raphaelite surrender, and a paradise on the verge of being lost. The title of the work represents a direct challenge to the viewer, confronted with an open-ended and highly charged situation fraught with danger; the tragic, touchpaper corruptibility of adolescent youth.
Bathed in the late evening sun, a young man lies alone by the side of a swimming pool. Lithe and limber, with butter smooth skin and luxuriant, Louis XIV curls tumbling into the small of his back, he is a study in manicured androgeny. His expression is at once confident and sad, like the self-consumed despair of a contemporary Narcissus having just contemplated his own reflection. In his luminous colours, which feel almost too perfect, and his smooth, gleaming surface, somehow just too appealing, Schmidberger crafts a delicate beauty as attractive as it is unsettling.
The scene shifts in What controls you must not necessarily be a person to a bed of long grass. The same young girl, in a similar state of partial undress, leans back as her dog licks a smooth, sugar sweet leg. With her eyes closed and head raised upward, like a saint in religious ecstasy, she is caught in a snapshot moment of dark titillation. In his choice of a setting, evocative of innocence as it is of indiscretion, and a format, the tondo, more customarily associated with Italian Renaissance depictions of the Madonna, Schmidberger positions the painting on a precarious line between the sacred and the profane. His title, a matter-of-fact confirmation of what we dare not think, does the rest.