CURA.

WALTER SWENNEN
La pittura farà da sé


curated by Edoardo Bonaspetti

La Triennale di Milano, Milan

June 21 – August 26, 2018

Share on:
Facebook
Twitter

When I explain it, I have the impression of lying.
When I explain it, I feel that things happened differently.
Walter Swennen

On the occasion of his first solo exhibition in an Italian institution, at La Triennale di Milano, Walter Swennen (b. 1946, Brussels) presents his investigation into the ideological foundations of painting. The show curated by Edoardo Bonaspetti reflects on a free and elusive world of expression through over 40 paintings, from the early 1980s to the present day, rousing visitors with countless interpretations and hypotheses.

Before concentrating on painting in the 1980s, Swennen devoted himself to poetry and philosophy. Much of his artistic production reveals his interest in the associative qualities of language, with evocative experiments and stratified collages inhabiting his canvases and influencing the titles of his works. This use of language is intimately linked to his own personal experience. When he was a child, the Second World War meant that, from one day to the next, his family had to abandon Flemish and start speaking French. A few years later, Swennen was no longer able to speak his own mother tongue, which complicated his vision of language as a form of communication and expression.

1/5
Walter Swennen, Bewtie, Installation view: Gladstone Gallery, New York, Courtesy the artist and Gladstone Gallery, New York and Brussels.  
2/5
Walter Swennen, Ein perfektes Alibi, Installation view: Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen, Düsseldorf, Courtesy Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen, Düsseldorf  
3/5
Walter Swennen, Ein perfektes Alibi, Installation view: Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen, Düsseldorf, Courtesy Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen, Düsseldorf  
4/5
Walter Swennen, Ein perfektes Alibi, Installation view: Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen, Düsseldorf, Courtesy Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen, Düsseldorf  
5/5
Walter Swennen, Popeye, 2017, Courtesy the artist and Gladstone Gallery, New York and Brussels.  

He studied the thoughts of Sigmund Freud, Søren Kierkegaard, and Jacques Lacan, and this led to an increasing interest in the works of artists involved in investigations of the word, such as Bob Cobbing and Marcel Broodthaers. Letters, phrases, and fragments in English, Flemish and French begin to creep into his canvases, providing – or eliminating – traces of narratives in favour of incoherence, nonsense, and mystery. His works made a definitive break with painting in the form of a visual language, while his images freed themselves from any attempt at representation of the real world. The recognisability of letters, words, and figures is an illusion – an instrumental deception that thrusts the viewer into a dimension whose semantic richness can be neither clarified nor reduced to its bare minimum. We may recognise a pattern in a geometrical form, a letter that beguiles us with the graceful shapes of its composition, words in sounds - we may think we are reading them but actually what we see are surfaces, shapes, and enigmas that always mean something else, inevitably taking us elsewhere. The artist plays all the time with the elements of painting, isolating and distorting them in an infinite work of construction and deconstruction, without starting from an idea or a plan that guides him towards the creation of an image. Free from representational, critical, or ideological requirements, Swennen experiments with materials, colours, and techniques, and he makes use of every possible way of generating an image by means of a creative process with rules and parameters that are intentionally betrayed or ignored. Conceptually, when Swennen starts working on a canvas, he could create anything.

OTHER PREVIEW
More than 140 artists and over 200 works to compose the multicultural, polyglot, colorful, scary, stimulating, deafening story of the streets of the whole world, the real great laboratory for discussion, creation, comparison, where the contemporary era is invented. Maxxi, Rome
Manifesta 12, Collateral Event
Galleria Lorcan O'Neill, Rome