Light, shadow, tone, texture. The newest series from artist Susan Swartz lays bare upon the canvas these essential elements.
Even as her work has evolved over the past few years from expressionism into something more modern and abstract, Swartz usually structures her paintings with form and color.
Not so with the Contemplation series. This still evolving series of 21 paintings to-date constitutes a collection of works in which Swartz finds respite from the riotous colors and intentional forms of her other collections. The Contemplation works almost paint themselves, during quiet moments when her mind is at rest.
The pieces in the Contemplation series are so true to their names, they are inspired by those moments we spend in quiet connection with nature. Everyone has had those times, regardless of where they live, in cities or in more rural settings. These paintings are a depiction of what it is to deeply consider our role in the natural world and the power of what lies just beyond our view or our comprehension. We can see a world blanketed in one tone after a while, we become so accustomed to our surroundings, but when we take time to sit with nature, we find the speckles of brilliant color that lie beneath the surface.
The series marks a significant shift in style—taken as a whole, they may represent Swartz’s most abstract work to-date. Take Contemplation 3, which is nearly ambient in its absence of defining form or color. Or Contemplation 10, which is more tone than driving melody.
The series of square paintings of various scale were created during the late autumn and early winter, a time of year when the jubilant and violent color of life is muted, and when all the natural world turns inward. As Swartz explains it:
During much of the year, my painting is a reaction to the loudest aspects of nature—the primary hues of summer, the linear masculinity of aspen trees in the fall. But nature is also rich with subtlety, and these quiet nuances of early winter encourage me to contemplate my role as steward to the world around me.
Light, shadow, tone, texture. The Contemplation series is the manifestation of Swartz giving pause, reflecting back on her radical and transformative recent past.