00 featured image of Exhibition View - An Unconventional Vision of the Soul: Susan Swartz’s “Personal Path” made its debut in China

On October 11, American Artist Susan Swartz’s exhibition “Personal Path” was unveiled at the Art Museum of Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA Art Museum) in Beijing. This exhibition is the third collaboration between the Central Academy of Fine Arts and Stiftung für Kunst und Kultur e.V., following other cooperative projects, such as the“China 8—China Contemporary Art Exhibition” (2015) and the “Deutschland 8: Deutsche Kunst in China” (2017) . The exhibition features 83 paintings created recently by Susan Swartz, including two series she created especially for this exhibition, which are “Nature Revisited” and “Breaking Away” series. Through the use of an abstract painting language, the works are either colorful or dynamic which presents us with an unconventional scene of the soul by a female artist on the path to abstract art. Taking this exhibition as an opportunity, Utah State of U.S. and Zions Bank jointly donated one of Susan Swartz’s work to the CAFA Art Museum as a beautiful commemoration of the cultural and artistic exchange.

Susan has studios in Park City, a quaint town in Utah, and Martha’s Vineyard, off the coast of Massachusetts. She travels to and from these two places every year. The mountains and the sea she has seen during these trips have brought her endless inspiration. We can feel the vivacity of nature in her paintings. Fan Di’an, President of CAFA addressed at the opening ceremony stating that “Susan’s creation has formulated a unique balance between richness and simplicity. Her work uses new media and many of her skills convey a form of purity through corporality, this is I think the most impressing part of her work.”

Mr. Fan Di’an, President of Central Academy of Fine Arts, Ms. Shanna Surendra, Cultural Counsellor of U.S. Embassy in China, Mr. Chen Ping, Cultural Counsellor of China Embassy in Germany, Mr. Benjamin Sand, Deputy Cultural Officer of U.S. Embassy in China, artist Susan Swartz, Mr. Walter Smerling, Chairman of the Art and Culture Foundation, Bonn and the curator of this exhibition, Mr. Scott Anderson, CEO of Zions Bank, Mr. Jürgen Grossmann, Entrepreneur, Prof. Jochem Heizmann, CEO of Volkswagen China, Ms. Mary Anne Huntsman, Pianist, the Delegation of Utah, as well as representatives of CAFA and honored guests from various art institutions attended the opening ceremony. Zhang Zikang, Director of CAFA Art Museum, chaired the opening ceremony.

Prof. Fan Di’an, President of CAFA, observed in his essay in the exhibition catalogue: “These artworks originate from nature, but reflect her true thinking on the world. Each tint of color and trace of stroke on the canvas reveals her creation process—asking herself a question, answering it by herself, and asking another…From this perspective, her creation method is consistent with major characteristics in Chinese art, which focus on striking a balance between the scenes themselves and the feelings people have when they are in the scenes. In this process, people and nature, the self and the world are truly brought together…She has her own unique way of understanding the meaning of art creation. The brushstrokes and textures of her paintings reveal both a rich sense and her own vivid character as a female artist.”

Walter Smerling, the curator of the exhibition, and the chairman of Stiftung für Kunst und Kultur e.V. writes in his essay about Susan: “Susan Swartz has dedicated herself to one of the timeless themes in the history of art: the ambivalent relationship between nature and painting. Steeped in the tradition of American historical landscape painting, her pictures are all rooted in her perception of the natural world, which is abstract in her works, and to which she has developed a profoundly personal, even spiritual, affinity.”

Dieter Ronte, German art historian, writes in his essay about Susan: “The term ‘Romantic’ also captures a way of seeing of this American artist. Her paintings are full of romanticism, full of longing, love and always in search of the familiar turned unfamiliar, of the psyche of the person in nature, of a universal poetry which at one connects science, religion and painting.”

Alexander Borovsky, art historian and critic, the head of the contemporary art department of the Russia National Museum, observes in his essay of Susan Swartz: “These images are meant to call to mind smells, sounds, the trembling of tree-filtered sunlight on the retina. If all this does not sound abstract, this is because Swartz’s abstractions are indeed unusual. They are closely connected to the sensorial, to what Michel Foucault called “the materiality of painting”. Her paintings are full of the almost recognizably optical, of the tactile, even the acoustic.”

Entrepreneur Mr. Jürgen Grossmann thought that Susan Swartz’s paintings present an accumulated progress of thinking, which is also an expression of the inner spirit. While we focus on Susan’s painting style, we also need to pay attention to her profound comprehension of life, which came from her personal experience and was sublimated and expressed in her works.

Mr. Scott Anderson, CEO of Zions Bank, mentioned in his speech that the reason he wanted to donate a piece of Susan Swartz’s work to the CAFA Art Museum is because each of her works is full of her effort and her soul. He hoped that in the future, when each audience catches sight of such a painting at CAFA Art Museum, he or she could recall an amazing female artist just like Susan, and can draw inspiration from her creation.

Brad Herbert, who represented Gray Herbert, Governor of Utah State read the donation statement and donated the work “Evolving Visions 3” to the permanent collection of CAFA Art Museum. This day, 11 October, 2018 has been designated as “Utah-China Cultural Friendship Day” to promote the friendship between China and Utah.

The exhibition will remain on view till November 4.

Text by Yang Zhonghui, edited by Sue/CAFA ART INFO

Photo by Hu Sichen/CAFA ART INFO (Work Photo Courtesy of the Organizer)

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