Bruno David is pleased to present Sea Lover, an exhibition by Kansas City-based artist Charles Schwall. This will makes his fourth solo exhibition with the gallery. In conjunction with the exhibition, Bruno David Gallery will publish a catalogue of the artist’s work with an indepth exhibition history and bibliography.
Charles Schwall’s recent body of work, Sea Lover, is an exploration of two material languages, paint, and textiles; the exhibition is comprised of large canvas paintings and sewn fabric appliqué pieces. By placing these two material languages (two material bodies of knowledge) in conversation with one another, the work investigates concepts of surface, gendered space, fluidity, and overall softness. The aesthetic trajectory in the work is one of openness, growth, the expansion of organic systems, and morphology.
The conversation between paint and textiles occurs in various ways, such as painted forms that depict cloth, pattern, and textiles; use and reference of the vocabulary of sewing, such as folding and creasing, seaming, tucks, and pleats; and a semi-transparent use color, similar to a veil of fabric, in that it simultaneously hides and reveals. Many of the works also explore fabric’s innate water-like quality, such as the way cloth moves, ruffles, and twists in space. The title of the Sea Lover exhibition is inspired by concepts from French philosopher Luce Irigaray, who explores the complex, and sometimes controversial, relationship that exists between the feminine and the fluid. In this sense, the Sea Lover exhibition interrogates and critiques modernist structures through the point of view of water. In the paintings, organic forms break open, spill forward, and emerge from either the center or the outside edge of the picture plane. Shapes and patterns break free and/or split apart; fold inward and/or wrap around; and open in ways that evoke the growth or birth process. There is interaction of various parts, yet emptiness remains central to the picture plane of each canvas.
The work seeks to create places of openness, of a relation to the other; a generative place where birth and rebirth can continuously prevail. Through these visual actions, the works embody a womb-space, a gendered space that reveals possibilities of multiple states of transition.
Charles Schwall lives in Kansas City where he maintains his studio. His paintings have been exhibited in solo and group exhibitions nationally and internationally, including New York, St. Louis, Kansas City, Chicago, and Asuncion, Paraguay. As an early childhood educator, Schwall has extensively studied the educational system in the municipality of Reggio-Emilia, Italy, and co-edited and co-authored the book, In the Spirit of the Studio: Learning from the Atelier of Reggio Emilia. He is also the pedagogical coordinator for The St. Michael School of Clayton. He holds a BFA from the Kansas City Art Institute, and an MFA from Sam Fox School of Visual Arts - Washington University in St. Louis. During the COVID-19 crisis, Schwall has also sewn masks as a volunteer for KC Helps and The Sewing Labs in Kansas City.