Viewing Swanson’s landscape paintings is like experiencing a burst exhale after holding one’s breath too long. They are emotionally encompassing, visually consuming, and quite frankly if you stare too long, you might get woozy. Enormous vistas simultaneously burst in all directions with unbridled energy, delicate fauna dapple the space with carefree aplomb, while crisp lines methodically zip the viewer’s eye about the scene. Like any worthwhile friendship, Swanson’s work is pleasingly complicated.
Swanson’s highly detailed graphic works are not computer renderings – they are intensely layered paintings that are amazingly flat. To achieve this, Swanson applies acrylic on plywood and takes pains to reveal very little of his brushstrokes. This speaks volumes about his skills and sensitivity to his craft.
It would be simplistic to refer to Swanson’s paintings as ‘landscapes,’ for it would ignore the powerful narrative that runs throughout his work. For many years he has presented subtle views of nature existing within (and even in spite of) man’s interventions.
His recent work has taken these themes and blown them sky high. The new works are immediate and powerful. There is no mistaking that nature will prevail and the endless pulsation of time will dominate. In Swanson’s scenes, any human notions of conquests and even permanence are foolish and small headed.
Swanon’s work is quite simply – emotionally and visually BIG. Though the vibrant compositions are in constant visual upheaval, his collective works are a calm, lush reminder that all things reach universal equilibrium. They capture both the immediacy of a moment pulsating with spatial disturbance, while quietly revealing the larger concept that our time on this earth is just a hair’s width of impact within the billions upon billions of moments that lie in front of and behind us.
Swanson was kind enough to answer the 5 questions I ask everyone. An in-depth review of Swanson’s work can be found in art ltd. Magazine.
What artists or creative person has influenced you?
John Baldessari, Brian Eno, Agnes Martin, Wolfgang Voigt, Patti Smith, Edward Burtynsky, Leslie Shows
Not including other artists or art, what inspires you?
The California landscape with it’s amazing combination of beauty and waste.
What is the part of your process you enjoy the most?
I look forward to seeing how a puddle of paint dries after it sits all night- like opening a present. This is the part of the process that is open to chance anf accident.
… the least?
Writing about my work.
If you were NOT an artist, what would you be doing?
I think I’d be a scientist of some sort.
William Swanson’s fifth solo exhibition, “Groundwork,” will be at Marx & Zavattero.
Worth noting, “Groundwork,” was named one of the top 10 painting shows in the US by The Huffington Post. You can link to the article here.
You may view the works on display at their the Marx & Zavattero website.
February 12 – March 19, 2011
Marx & Zavattero
77 Geary (@ Grant), 2nd Floor
San Francisco, CA, 94108
Marx & Zavattero says this of Swanson’s work:
Utilizing his signature arresting palette, play between light and beauty, structure and fissure, Swanson creates dynamic painted landscapes that are dense and luminous. … This process yields ruinous, yet beautiful paintings that set the stage for either a pre- or post-apocalyptic scene, showing liminal space of incessant rebirth. … Increasingly saturated with information, Swanson’s new paintings compress layer upon layer of paint – suggesting stratified geologic specimens – contrasting with architectural forms that function like windows, circuitry, or video screens, providing depth and perspective that hints entirely of other worlds.
You may view past works from solo shows with New York gallery, DCKT and Walter Maciel Gallery, in Los Angeles.
Thanks for your time William!