Rachel Schwalm

Work

New Work to be featured at London Art Fair 2017

Rachel-Schwalm-Under-the-skin
Bio

Born in London

1986–1988 North Devon College, Art and Design

1989–1991 University of East London, BA (Hons) Fine Arts/Sculpture

Exhibitions

2017 Beaux Arts London, London Art Fair

2016 Summer ’16, Beaux Arts, London

2015 Summer ’15, Beaux Arts, London

2014 Summer ’14, Beaux Arts, London

2013 Summer ’13, Beaux Arts, London

2012 Summer ’12, Beaux Arts, London

2011 Summer ’11, Beaux Arts, London

2010 Stilled point of a turning world, Beaux Arts, London (solo)

2009 Summer ’09, Beaux Arts, London

2008 Beaux Arts, London (solo) Summer ’08,
Beaux Arts, London Still Another Place, The Crypt, St Pancras, London

2007 Summer ’07, Beaux Arts, London

2006 Summer ’06, Beaux Arts, London
Beverley Knowles Fine Art 20/20 Eigse Festival, Carlow, Dublin (Solo)

2005 Summer Show, The Blue Gallery, London

2004 Mixed Summer Show, Stephen Lacey Gallery

2003 Christmas Show, Stephen Lacey Gallery Mixed Show, Stephen Lacey Gallery

2002 Bcontemporary Annual Show Case, London National Trust Summer Sculpture Show, The Courts, Bath

2000 Commissioned Installation, Neisha Crossland Design

1997 Selected Young Artists, Zakheim Gallery, London

1995 South West exhibition of Art and Education

1993 Chosen Graduate Show -Two Years On, Brighton Conference centre

1992 Music of the Spheres, Rebecca Hossack Gallery

1991 Soul Catcher, Rebecca Hossack Gallery

1991 Fresh Art Graduate Show, Business Design Centre, Islington

1990 The Air Gallery, London

Collections

The Royal Bank of Scotland Collection Private collections in France, Germany, Italy, Switzerland and the US

Commissions

Altar for The Venerable Chapel, Winchester Cathedral Various corporate commissions

Essay

TS Eliot when asked about the meaning of the Waste Land said `If I could have written it any other way, I would have done.’ Trying to write about Rachel Schwalm’s haunting, mysterious work is not just a verbal challenge, it is a contradiction in forms. Each of her images are challenges in themselves. They defy easy explanation, or even categorisation, but they draw you in. They invite you to ask questions about her intentions, about the meaning of the diverse but distinctive textures, colours and shapes she produces. She talks of echoes, of marks, of traces, of putting colour and light to emotions – but of what? Of birth, of life and death? There are hints pointing us, drawing us, luring us into the limbo of her lively and fertile imagination. But she never explicitly answers that question. It remains out of reach. Deconstructing her methods and influences merely compounds the enigma, but they are interesting in themselves. Her works are done with mathematical precision, using mathematical principles. Drawn, carved, marked and hewn using chalk plumb lines to proportion and scale up her inserts into larger panels of stone. Yet they seem much more hand wrought, as they are. They show none of the rigid formulaic patterning of painters like Bridget Riley or Vasarely. She will do thirty or forty levels of distressing of her materials to create a feeling of perspective even on otherwise flat surfaces, to give us what she calls `a glimpse into another layer.’ She mixes materials in such original ways that they defy labels. They are assemblages, with qualities of sculpture and painting combined. Some are hidden behind glass in case we are getting too close to understanding them, there are no narratives in her work – other than one’s own journey into the labyrinth she invites us to explore. She has Rembrandt’s self portrait peering at her from a postcard as she works away, distressing and measuring and marking up but no representational images appear under his gaze, only the darkness of his chiaroscuro can be seen in her output – merely hinting at what is off screen, off the map of the known world. Her subject is what is not there, a glimpse into the unknown. Rachel Schwalm is still early in what is already a promising career. Once seen, her work is unforgettable. For me, it echoes Gertrude Stein’s deathbed exchange with her lifelong friend Alice B. Toklas. Ms Toklas asked her `Gertrude, what’s the answer? Ms Stein answered, ‘ Alice, what’s the question?’ and died. I very much doubt that no matter how long Rachel lives and works that we will ever find the answer. But the question she poses, she captures inside every piece, resonate in one’s headlong afterwards. Kafka once said it was the job of fiction to put an ice pick in the brain. Rachel does that with her work. In our post-modern age of easy effects by other contemporary artists, Rachel takes us on a much harder path. Because it’s so enigmatic and elusive, the memory of each journey stays in the brain far longer. The ice pick is there. Roger Graef, OBE 2007 Roger Graef is a writer, filmmaker, broadcaster and criminologist.

Past Exhibitions
2010
2008
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