16 May Inside Out, an Exhibition of Paintings by Swain Hoogervorst
Inside Out is a collection of new paintings by Swain Hoogersvorst – a young artist who is reinvigorating classic oil painting through explorations of the contemporary.
Hoogervorst writes that: “Painting is a place of comfort, yet all the time uncomfortable. It can be completely liberating or extremely fearful. The studio is a retreat, a safe place of peace and quiet that does not require explanations; it can even be an excuse. At the same time it can become isolating, overwhelming, depressing and even be a cause for anti-social or ‘abnormal’ behaviour. Within this retreat I paint more retreats of my own. Places that I am drawn to, be it by their colour or the questions that brought me there; by the forms created through the interplay of light and shadow or even just the overall beauty of the image itself. I paint because this is the one way I know how to communicate my feelings about what I see and what I encounter.”
Since August last year Hoogervorst has been thinking about and working on paintings for Inside Out – a title which refers to two possibilities. “On one hand,” Hoogervorst tells us, “it is my belief that what you create should come from within yourself and is then projected outwards. Although we are influenced and affected by everything around us the term ‘inside out’ refers to the notion of being mindful of those influences and what you take in and put back out into the world. On the other hand the title refers to things not always going in the direction you thought they might go, and being open to that, as is the nature of the creative process.”
Though portraits by Hoogervorst are quite rare, Inside Out contains two: ‘Fashion’ and ‘Portrait of a woman, reflection’. Rather than signifying a retreat in any literal sense, “I would say it is rather the notion of a retreat that these portraits refer to,” Hoogervorst explains. “Both are in some ways a projection of myself and a way for me to escape or lose myself, just like if I were painting a seascape or a swimming pool. Although what you see resembles a portrait of a person, there are no discernable facial features and the brushstrokes are intentionally visible. I feel that this allows the viewer to explore the painting on their own terms, more so than would be the case if the brushwork was less visible and the portrait more defined. Therefore, even though the painting is a portrait, it is also a place for the viewer to perhaps escape into – if only for a brief moment, a retreat.”
Looking at the paintings that make up Inside Out, they are seen to be in various stages of (what we perceive as) completion. In ‘Poolroom’ for instance, Hoogervorst seeks to understand whether or not a painting can rather be a more direct and impulsive application of paint, that is not necessarily built up in layers. In contrast to this, ‘John’s Garden’ was one of the first paintings that he worked on for the show and over time has been built up to consist of numerous layers.
On what has influenced these choices, Hoogervorst notes: “One of my aims with this body of work was to question and challenge myself on what it means to make a painting and what constitutes a painting. When I began painting I thought that a good painting was one which was built up in layers to eventually become a ‘finished’ well-polished work. Throughout the implementation of this process I have become more and more intrigued by the initial layers that are painted before being covered up by the final layers, considering what to conceal and what to let through.”
Inside Out showed at the AVA Gallery from 15 April – 8 May 2014.