Friday, 18 September 2020

Geraldine Swayne | Annunciation | Sept-Oct 2020

CHARLIE SMITH LONDON is delighted to present Geraldine Swayne in her first solo exhibition at the gallery, which was originally scheduled for March 2020 and postponed due to the Covid pandemic. 


Swayne is well known for her intimate portrait and figure paintings in enamel on copper or aluminium. Her subjects engage in everyday activities – listening to music; sewing; putting on lipstick; drinking. Sometimes they are clothed, and often they are unclothed – sitting, lying, having sex, or being spanked. Engaging in everyday activities.


In this exhibition, recalling earlier work, Swayne effortlessly scales up to combine small paintings with larger paintings. Her subjects are derived from various sources, including 18th century ceramics; anonymous vintage photographs; a cache of photographs found in a serial killer’s lock up; and her own iPhone pictures. The identity of the subject, therefore, is often unimportant, or at least less important than the feeling conveyed. It is the emotional and psychological register to which Swayne responds, and then mediates. As she has previously stated: “I paint atmospheres. The insinuated, unspoken and unspeakable evidence of the human personality. The bodies and faces of the subjects I choose reflect an interior mystery, and I try to amplify this riddle in the rendition of the subject.”

Technically, Swayne’s style is uniquely fluid and transfers expertly from miniature through to monumental.  And her approach to her practice as a whole is instinctive. Underlying her work is an ongoing exploration of humanity, subtly played by presenting us with, at face value, the familiar. But Swayne loads the unfamiliar into the familiar; and extraordinary into the ordinary, as if conveying messages or annunciations from elsewhere that are channelled from the macro, via the micro, and vice versa. 

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