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    Charles Schweigert        View Resume             

    Artist's Statement

    For my paintings, I work in a variety of media on canvas, wood panel, and on various kinds of paper. My most recent body of work is done on Terraskin paper made from limestone and tree resin. I also work on pages recycled from old Japanese books, often books of chants used in Buddhist ceremonies.

    Although my work is largely abstract and nonrepresentational, there are often references to Japanese art, literature, and theater.  The Oriental influence in my work has always been strong. I am very much influenced by the Japanese aesthetic with its subtle refinement and appreciation of understatement and the sensitivity to nature that runs throughout Japanese culture. In a country where calligraphy is considered one of the highest forms of art, the sensibility is naturally attuned to abstract art. The awareness that ‘less is more,’ the responsiveness to suggestion rather than to literal depiction, the allusiveness of haiku, and the gentle melancholy of wabi-sabi all resonate in my work.

    In terms of technique, this sensibility is translated into my paintings by incorporating the Japanese love of asymmetry and the notion of ‘hide and reveal’ used extensively in Japanese landscape design; to accomplish this on canvas, for example, I will often build up several layers of paint or collage elements onto a surface and then abrade the surface to reveal something of the layers beneath. On paper, I will often place a solitary figure in an expansive landscape as a metaphor for man’s place in the larger universe. In my “Suburi” series, the human figure is absent altogether, and the natural landscape is only hinted at; these paintings are purely abstract renderings of the movement of a sword through space during the practice of suburi, a form of meditation in martial arts that cleanses and sharpens the mind through precisely executed movements.

    In my sculptures, I work with the vessel shape in the broadest sense of the term and think of the final object as more a repository than an empty container. It may be a resting place for an artifact from the past or a storage place for non-material constructs such as ideas, thoughts, memories, and emotions. I construct them using wire, usually copper, and found metals and objects that are often rusted or show some evidence of age. Individual components are joined together using wire or solder, which is then given a chemical patina. They may also incorporate other materials, such as hardware cloth, hand made paper, fiber, and ceramic elements that I make myself. I often use acrylic glazes and chemical patinas on the metal and ceramic surfaces to achieve a sense of age and decay. In constructing a vessel shape, I try to deconstruct it as well, so that it is readily apparent how the components came together. I like to achieve the look of something long buried that shows that natural forces have shaped the piece as much as the human hand: an ossuary found among Roman ruins or a reliquary salvaged from a medieval shipwreck, for example, that suggest ancient rituals and mysterious purposes.