Geraldine Swayne. What Do You Want…?

27 Feb — 21 Mar 2015 at Lawrence Alkin Gallery in London, United Kingdom

24 FEBRUARY 2015
Geraldine Swayne, Nicki Minaj
Geraldine Swayne, Nicki Minaj

Lawrence Alkin Gallery is delighted to announce a solo show by painter and miniaturist, Geraldine Swayne. Working mostly in miniature on enamel and metal, Swayne’s paintings are presented in the tradition of travelling portraits or memento mori.

Swayne’s paintings are figurative and restrained in style and create a disturbing emotional atmosphere, with subjects that are often vulnerable, notorious or even pornographic. Vibrant, jewel-like objects, reflecting the beauty of enamel paint, these pieces are enhanced by the glowing surfaces of aluminium or copper. The artist aptly describes the works as “epitaphs to human folly”.

The artist credits Degas, Chantal Joffe, Ron Kitaj and Marlene Dumas as strong influences on her work and in fact Dumas - herself currently the subject of a Tate Modern retrospective- suggested the director of Magasin3 Museum in Stockholm buy ten of Swayne’s pieces for their permanent collection.

Swayne’s career path has been a fascinating one; after graduating in fine-art from Newcastle University in 1989, she won a Northern Arts Travel award to paint and make super-8 films about Voodoo in New Orleans. She then moved to France in 1991, painting portraits and large outdoor works for the Marie of St Jean de Fos, returning to the UK in 1992 to become a pioneer special effects designer. Swayne has made numerous experimental films including the world’s first super-8 Imax film East End, which was produced by Cathy Shaw, narrated by Miriam Margolyes and scored by Nick Cave. After leaving the film industry in 2004 Swayne worked as an assistant for Jake and Dinos Chapman rebuilding 'Hell'.

Describing the emotions with her work, Swayne comments: “My work has a very strong narrative feeling to it although it’s quite non-specific. The paintings look like heightened moments from films where you don’t know what’s going on but there’s a powerful emotion present. It’s not that someone’s sad or happy or crying, it’s like a moment of transformation or of something being revealed to them, there’s a funny atmosphere. There’s also an emotional narrative that people project on the work. When they see my pictures they often respond powerfully, some people have cried or said it’s like a dream or nightmare they can’t shake off.”