Rachel Schwalm


 Artist's statement

‘I do not seek, I find… Beauty is truth… Sculpture is architecture… Art is artificial… Less is more…
Reg Butler (from his Slade lectures)

My work is a collision of two worlds, painting and sculpture, but it has its origins in painting and architecture, which has inspired the proportions and scaling-up element in my work.

Other notable influences include the American minimalists and painters of light such as Piero della Francesca and Rembrandt.

At first glance the panels may look perfect – constructed as they are using the mathematical principles of Fibonacci – but look again and you find your eye momentarily jarred by some tiny imperfection; misplaced lines that skewer the composition, a fractionally off-kilter angle or the insert sitting off-centre in its larger panel of stone. These are the subtle flaws that give the work its personality, its thread of humanity.

For me, what’s left unsaid is as poignant as what is said. I will whittle and pare the ‘canvas’ down to its minimalist essence, the intention being to leave a door open to the imagination; it’s then up to the viewer to create their own reality out of my fragments of colour, distressed layers and play of light and shade. It’s as if the pigmented portal offers a glimpse back in time and like a ‘time capsule’ helps peel back the layers and accretions of centuries. It might look minimalist but my work has an old soul. I’m fascinated by minutiae, by the details you isolate on a paving slab or the fragment of paint in a fresco, by worlds within worlds, and that’s why I always create a portal within a portal.

Close-up it means nothing but stand back and you start to fill in the picture. You bring to it your own interpretation, the richness of your own emotional experience; you make it your own. There’s also an ambiguity to the inner portals, which appear slightly crater-like, almost like ear-drums, as if they’re listening to something much bigger – the universe perhaps? I like to think of them as light-filled thresholds to other worlds.




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