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b. 1946, Belgium

Walter Swennen Biography

Born 1946 in Brussels, Belgium, lives and works in Brussels.

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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 relativisation–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.

Selected solo exhibitions: Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen, Düsseldorf (2015); Wiels Centre d’Art Contemporain, Brussels (2013); Culturgest, Lisbon (2013); Kunstverein Freiburg (2011); MUHKA, Antwerp (1994); Kunsthal Rotterdam (1994); Museum van Hedendaagse Kunst, Ghent (1993); and Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels (1986).

Text courtesy Galerie nächst St. Stephan Rosemarie Schwarzwälder.

Walter Swennen Featured Artworks

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Happy Mothers Day by Walter Swennen contemporary artwork
Walter SwennenHappy Mothers Day, 2017Oil on canvas
80 x 60 cm
Xavier Hufkens Enquire about this work
A last poem for Cacao Beni by Walter Swennen contemporary artwork
Walter SwennenA last poem for Cacao Beni, 2019Oil on canvas
150 x 135.2 x 3 cm
Xavier Hufkens Enquire about this work
Carnival by Walter Swennen contemporary artwork
Walter SwennenCarnival, 2018Oil on canvas
50 x 60 x 1.8 cm
Xavier Hufkens Enquire about this work
Bears by Walter Swennen contemporary artwork
Walter SwennenBears, 2018Oil on canvas
60 x 80 x 2 cm
Xavier Hufkens Enquire about this work
Overboard, at wall by Walter Swennen contemporary artwork
Walter SwennenOverboard, at wall, 2018Oil on canvas
23 1/2 x 19 5/8 inches
Xavier Hufkens Enquire about this work
Amiral by Walter Swennen contemporary artwork
Walter SwennenAmiral, 2018Oil on canvas
135 x 180 x 3.5 cm
Galerie nächst St. Stephan Rosemarie Schwarzwälder Enquire about this work
King's Fish by Walter Swennen contemporary artwork
Walter SwennenKing's Fish, 2018Oil on canvas
40 x 50 x 2.5 cm
Galerie nächst St. Stephan Rosemarie Schwarzwälder Enquire about this work
Captain White Raven by Walter Swennen contemporary artwork
Walter SwennenCaptain White Raven, 2018Oil on canvas
100 x 80 x 2.5 cm
Galerie nächst St. Stephan Rosemarie Schwarzwälder Enquire about this work

Walter Swennen Recent Exhibitions

Contemporary art exhibition, Walter Swennen, Un Cœur Pur at Xavier Hufkens, Brussels
Closed
1 March–13 April 2019 Walter Swennen Un Cœur Pur Xavier Hufkens6 rue St-Georges, Brussels
Contemporary art exhibition, Walter Swennen, HIC HAEC HOC at Xavier Hufkens, Brussels
Closed
28 October–17 December 2016 Walter Swennen HIC HAEC HOC Xavier Hufkens6 rue St-Georges, Brussels

Walter Swennen Represented By

Walter Swennen In Related Press

'Sputterances' at Metro Pictures, New York Related Press 'Sputterances' at Metro Pictures, New York 25 April 2017, Frieze

As its title suggests, Sputterances has much to do with language - specifically the degrees to which an artist succeeds or fails at communicating an idea and the ways in which the content of paintings can be 'read'. The exhibition includes the work of 21 visual artists and a poem contributed by Ben Lerner, which is printed on card with an...

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Walter Swennen at Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen Related Press Walter Swennen at Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen 10 December 2015, Kunstverein Düsseldorf

After initially working in the field of poetry and performance Walter Swennen (born 1946) developed an extensive artistic oeuvre since the early 1980s that makes decided use of painting as a pictorial medium. In the process, the artist retains a conceptual proximity to a painting that is now once again all too gladly elevated as art’s supreme...

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