Walter SwennenLa Pittura Fara Da Se
La Triennale di Milano, Milano, Italy
On the occasion of his first solo exhibition in an Italian institution, at La Triennale di Milano, Walter Swennen (b. 1946, Brussels) is presenting his investigation into the ideological foundations of painting. This journey takes us through a series of works that retrace a career spanning almost thirty-five years.
Before concentrating on painting in the 1980s, Swennen devoted himself to poetry and philosophy. Much of his artistic production shows he is interested in the associative qualities of language, with evocative experiments and stratified collages inhabiting his canvases and influencing the titles of his works. This use of language is intimately linked to his own personal experience. When he was very young, his family stopped speaking Flemish and switched to French. A few years later, he was no longer able to speak in his native language, which thus complicated his vision of language as a means of communication. Letters, fragments and statements in English, Flemish and French find their way into his canvases, providing – or eliminating – traces of narratives. Images from his memory encounter motifs and subjects borrowed from comics, advertisements and children’s drawings: Swennen’s art is an act of rebellion on the borderline between humour and solemnity, politics and formality, reality and fiction.