Ben Brown Fine Arts presents the first UK exhibition of American artist Ena Swansea, whose work has been widely exhibited in the United States and abroad. The exhibition is comprised of nine mesmerizing oil, acrylic and graphite paintings, monumental in size and typically void of any specific narrative.
In 2005, Swansea’s works were first exhibited in the UK as part of the landmark exhibition, The Triumph of Painting at London’s Saatchi Gallery, which was devoted to the primacy of painting at the root of artistic expression. Swansea’s new paintings, produced over the course of the last year, allude to the artist’s background in film and digital art, which has led her to continually introduce elements normally associated with these technologies to otherwise traditional painting techniques.
Using photographs of the world around her as source material, the city scenes, rural studies and atmospheric portraits she depicts have the evasiveness of dreams and intangible recollections. Swansea manipulates these familiar images, reducing and refining the specifics until the snow laden branches of entrance to the country club, the sea of uniforms in Scottish marching band and the almost familiar scene in twilight snow in Central Park (all 2017) become ambiguous; the images occupying the space on the edges of perception. Swansea has noted that, “certain images are flexible; they can be about different things depending on who is looking.”
Many of Swansea’s canvases are primed with a distinctive graphite mixture, which creates a reflective surface and gives her works a notably cinematic perspective. The layering of acrylic, oil and graphite allows her works to transfix space and time, the metallic ground changing with the light and imbuing her paintings with an ephemeral luminosity and transparency.