At the famous Deutsches Eck, or “German Corner”, where the Rhine and Moselle rivers converge, lies one of Germany's oldest and most beautiful towns – Koblenz. It has been dedicated as a UNESCO world heritage site and is considered to be a national treasure. It is also the backdrop for Susan Swartz’s latest solo exhibition, Personal Path, where 80 of her works occupy three floors of the City’s esteemed Ludwig Museum.
On May 20, 2015 I had the great pleasure of attending the opening of the exhibit, attended by many leaders in the European art world and several key dignitaries of Germany. The Director of the Ludwig Museum, Dr. Beate Reifenscheid, noted in her opening remarks that dedicating three floors of a museum to a single artist is almost unheard of, which is true not only in Europe but anywhere in the museum world. Seeing an exhibit with three floors dedicated to a single artist is truly a remarkable experience. It is a triumph in the career of any artist, past or present.
The artist’s journey is clearly visible when works created over the past ten years are placed within a single show. Over the three floors of the Ludwig Museum, Susan Swartz’s paintings tell a story not only of her artistic career but also of her personal victories and dedication to expressing the beauty of nature. Swartz overcame sicknesses that, through using a newfound strength of inspiration, allowed her to display a new form of power and narrative in her work.
The first floor of the exhibit displays Swartz’s larger paintings, some of which belong to museums and private collections, and are quite well known in her hometown community of Park City, Utah. Earlier works are placed between newer paintings, so visitors can see the evolution of Swartz’s artistic style. Experiencing these large creations hanging and well lit in the museum is magical – the colors are brighter and the brushstrokes are more vivid.
Moving through the show reveals the clear progression of the exhibition. The second floor features two of Swartz’s series, the Contemplation Series and the Landscape of Resonances, among other paintings. Here, the move from slightly abstracted to fully abstracted painting becomes visible. The contrast between the bright colors of the Landscape of Resonances Series and the soft shades of the Contemplation Series creates a flow to the room giving visitors space to think about Swartz’s work and its changes overtime. The third floor showcases some of Swartz’s smaller works, again blending newer and older pieces to maintain the energy and juxtaposition that is so crucial to the exhibition.
Curator Dieter Ronte aptly quotes Jane Goodall, the famous primatologist on Swartz's work in the entry didactic: "Each of her paintings richly illustrates the beauty of our world...". You leave the Ludwig Museum's doors not only inspired but also grateful for nature's wonders. The energy of the show is unbelievable and its setting at the famous German Corner, makes it all the more special. The careful placement of paintings and enormity of the exhibition puts Swartz’s work in a new light. I urge anyone visiting Germany this summer to pay a visit to Susan Swartz's stunning exhibit in lovely Koblenz.
Robin Marrouche is the Executive Director of the Kimball Art Center in Park City, Utah. She has been following Susan Swartz’s career since 2007. Swartz’s work was part of a group exhibition at the Kimball Art Center in 2013.
A photo gallery with images of the exhibition can be found here.