„bewtie“ – now on view at Gladstone Gallery New York presents new paintings by Belgian artist Walter Swennen tracing the
artist’s deeply personal approach to the medium and practice of painting. During his acclaimed, nearly 40-year career, Swennen has worked without one signature style to categorize his artistic oeuvre. Rather, he employs his background in philosophy, poetry and psychoanalysis to create works that are defined by the absence of a single perspective or framework.
Language plays a crucial role in Swennen’s work, tied closely to the artist’s own history. At a young age, his family stopped speaking his mother tongue of Flemish and began to speak French. After several years, he was unable to speak or understand Flemish, complicating his understanding of how language could be used as an effective form of communication between people.
Letters, fragments and statements in English, Flemish and French often infiltrate his canvases, both providing or removing any sense of narrative or context. In this multidisciplinary approach, Swennen mines his memory to source imagery from history and popular culture to examine the lyrical possibilities of painting that prioritize gesture, texture and technique over subject matter.
Melding images from his mind with motifs and subjects appropriated from comic strips, advertisements and children’s drawings, Swennen’s figuration is as an act of rebellion and deviation that blurs the lines between humor and gravitas, the political and the formal as well as reality and fiction.
Walter Swennen was born in 1946 in Brussels, where he presently lives and works. His work has been the subject of numerous solo exhibitions at international institutions including Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen, Düsseldorf; Culturgest Lisbon; Kunstverein Freiburg; MUKHA Antwerp; Kunsthal Rotterdam; and WIELS contemporary art center, Brussels.
Swennen has also been included in notable group exhibitions including: Atopolis, Manège de Sury, Mons (2015); The Importance of Being…, Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Havana (2015); Idiolect, Arentshuis, Bruges (2009); La Belgique Visionnaire/Visionair België curated by Harald Szeemann (Palais des Beaux-Arts/Paleis voor Schone Kunsten, Brussels, 2005); Voir en Peinture (FRAC Ile de France/Le Plateau, Paris, 2003); La Consolation (Centre d’Art National Contemporain, Le Magasin, Grenoble, 1999) and Trouble Spot. Painting (Antwerp, 1999).
through 28 October 2017
ART & DESIGN FAIRS
ARCO MADRID 21 FEB/ 25 FEB
PAD PARIS 21 MAR/ 25 MAR
ART BRUSSELS19 APR/ 22 APR
ART COLOGNE 19 APR/ 22 APR
PHOTO LONDON 17 MAI/ 20 MAY
PHOTO BASEL 12 JUN/ 17 JUN
ART BASEL 14 JUN/ 17 JUN