Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Leslie Swching at CHAW

Bruce McKaig reviews the solo exhibition by Baltimore artist Leslie Swching opening this coming Saturday at the Capitol Hill Arts Workshop. The show is July 17 through August and the Opening Reception is Saturday July 17th 5 – 7 pm.

By Bruce McKaig

A sensation, a memory, a small…a feeling on the back of your neck, something tells you that you are in touch with the long thought.

There is no clash between the urban and the rural in Schwing’s work, both serve equally as backdrops for her observations and subsequent depictions of fractal patterns. With materials as diverse as watercolor, pastel, and scratch boards, Schwing meanders a path that starts near her home in Baltimore, twists through a system of patterns molded by the materials she uses, and ends at an internal place that was calling her from the start. Starting in an alleyway or a field, she begins en plein aire, but buildings or trees become spotted with, or overtaken by, glyph-like patterns emerging over an evolution from external observation to internal contemplation. In works where the patterns have overtaken their makers, the abstracted result is an encrypted narrative, a story that does not translate as much as resonate.

Lost in the woods, you’ve been there before, everything has overgrown and become unrecognizable, but you get active, you pick up a scent, you find yourself back on the path.

Castles, tree (scratch board)In working with diverse materials, Schwing has given her visual language various accents. Her own vision persists across the materials, perhaps because she does not seem to fight with them, instead letting each one take her exploration into its own material specificity.

It doesn’t matter if you are working blindly so long as you stick with it until you are back on the path.

Schwing’s work and life have evolved to include collaborations with other artists. Her past projects include Road Kill Resurrection, which began as a date with Greg Fletcher, also a Baltimore artist and her partner for 15 years. “We realized that we could work together because the work would not be competitive.” That project lasted three years and eventually involved other participants.

For all the diversity in content – rural vs urban vs abstract – and the diversity in materials – watercolor, pastel, scratchboard – what stands out most in surveying these collected works is Schwing’s persistent visual language, built around the word harmony. The images are charged and active, but the activity is sans stress. Buildings and trees establish a space that Swching populates with fractal patterns that add a temporal dynamic, a reference to cycles and change. “I’m not trying to replicate a scene, but to catch its scent.”

If I now where I am going, I get bored.

All quotes in italics by Leslie Schwing 2010

For more information on Leslie Schwing, click here.

For more information about CHAW and opening, click here.

For more information about the author, click here.