Like other painters of his generation, Walter Swennen explores the medium of painting from new perspectives, applying principles from other disciplines to his works. After beginning his career as a Beatnik poet and participating in Happenings in the mid-1960s, he became fascinated by Marcel Broodthaers, who was becoming well-known at the time. In the beginning of the 1980s, Swennen, who had trained to be an engraver, decided to explore the poetic possibilities of painting. He began creating cartoonish works and gestural action paintings, followed by “painted texts” and “written” paintings in which poetry and painting intermingle.
Walter Swennen explores the relationship between painting, picture, and abstraction. He once said, “A painting is always an image of a painting.” In his engagement with specific issues of painting, he focuses on different forms of resistance, deviation, and relativization – like marginality, absurdity, euphemisms, anticlimaxes, and the tragicomic. Under the surface of his seemingly naive execution of his paintings, we find very different sources of inspiration, like comics, literature, bi-lingual dictionaries, children’s drawings, motifs from advertisements, and Pop Art. In a kind of mechanical, impersonal manner, Swennen investigates the logic of products – their anonymity and automatism.
Throughout his entire oeuvre, Walter Swennen has been searching for what is unforeseeable and contradictory in painting. His works are experiments with and investigations into motifs, language and signs, techniques, picture supports, meaning and expressiveness. His associative and improvised working method makes him one of the most innovative artists of our time.
The exhibition takes place on the occasion of curated by_vienna 2013.