Gaa Gallery is pleased to present Marine Paintings by Ena Swansea. This exhibition will run from July 8 to August 3. Please join us for an opening reception on Friday, July 8 from 6 to 9pm.
Seeing Swansea’s work is a psychologically charged encounter. While resistant to easy narratives they communicate the truthfulness of a deep human inquiry. On initial inspection the images appear minimal and subdued but on closer inspection the scenes collapse and give way to the abstract. The paintings are simultaneously cohering and pulling apart.
Swansea uses a host of personally derived techniques to create paintings that are a combination of fact and fiction. By using her personal photographs as points of departure it feels as if she is sharing her experience freely with the viewer. But far from being mimetic responses the paintings become unpredictable, like snapshots taken within a daydream. By using graphite as the initial layer in her painting process her nuanced color takes on a psychological quality that absorbs rather than illuminates. The dark ground from which the paintings emerge are reminiscent of a daguerreotype exuding a strange iridescent quality.
In Marine Paintings Swansea presents a series of works depicting the ocean from her unique painterly perspective. This continuation of a motif that has spanned the history of art places Swansea’s work in a larger discussion on the nature of the sublime. The surface of the water created with lush brushstrokes over her quintessential darkness show a physical surface filled with fractious energy that is at once luminous and simultaneously opaque. An obscuring force where liminal boundaries teeter on the edge of submersion and sublimation.
Ena Swansea (b. 1966) lives and works in New York. Raised in North Carolina, Swansea studied film and painting at the University of South Florida. She is the recipient of a Hassam, Speicher, Betts and Symons Purchase Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. The artist's work has been exhibited internationally and is represented in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, Cornell’s University's Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, the Boca Raton Museum of Art and the Galerie Neue Meister Albertinum in Dresden. In 2008, the artist’s first museum survey, Ena Swansea paintings, was held at the Musee d’Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean, Luxembourg. A larger survey, Psycho, 41 paintings from 2002 - 2011 in European collections, was on view at Deichtorhallen Sammlung Falckenberg, Hamburg during 2011-2012. In addition to solo gallery shows in New York, Philadelphia, Zurich, Seoul and Berlin, Swansea has participated in a number of group exhibitions, including at MoMA PS1, Von der Heydt Museum Wuppertal, Saatchi Gallery London, and Kunsthalle Wien in Vienna.