Q&A with Geraldine Swayne...
The Rebel Magazine: I loved the opening night of your show Annunciation at the Charlie Smith gallery. Was this exhibition easy to hang? Did you tend to agree with (the gallery's director) Zavier Ellis where each painting should go?
Geraldine Swayne: "I left the hanging to Zavier as I think artists are often in the way during hanging. And I am rubbish at it anyway."
Why did you pick Annunciation as the title of the exhibition?
"I picked the name Annunciation because before we knew more about human consciousness, we listened to our un-conscious mind as if it was a kind of divine intervention, or (as Francis Bacon put it), a kind of other worldly signal we, the receivers, could detect. I am really interested in consciousness, and particularly unconscious thought, so I like the Romanticism of primitive manifestations of inspiration, such as angels and zephyrs, announcing things to us."
What's the most recent work in the show? What can you tell me about that painting?
"The most recent work was the weird baby’s head. A sort of bad moon, or alien intelligence, which kind of reads as the times were in. And is hopefully a bit funny too. It’s from a statue I saw in Belgium. I often paint from statues; the emotion is so distilled in them and statues of babies are particularly eerie and unnatural, like corpses. It started as a picture of a girl watching a rocket launch. Happier times."
Were you stressed about Covid stuff? Did you think the show would be cancelled?
"I was not over stressed by Covid, as I got it out of the way quite early on luckily. But the show was cancelled within 2 days of its opening. Zavier and I were discussing it almost hour to hour, following the radio announcements. Rather dramatic feeling of dread."
Helen Gorill wrote a book called Women Can't Paint that reminds us how the majority of prizes and awards in the art world go to men. She says the work of male artists is often valued up to 80% to that of work by female artists. Do you feel if people believed your paintings were made by a man they would sell for larger amounts of money?
"I don’t know if the work would go for more at this stage of things, but for sure with superstar artists, the household names, it’s hard to think of more than a handful of women who’s prices get commented on in newspapers, the way Hockney does for example. I don’t think about it as I suspect it would make me even angrier than I am about gender bias."
Did you enjoy being featured in the group exhibition Women Can't Paint?
"I loved the Marcus Harvey show ‘women cant paint’ and the accompanying symposium with Rebecca Fortnum and others. It felt like someone, a man, and a serious substantial artist was finally calling out the infamous Bazelitz remark, and made a really good, fuck-off show."
Do you tend to make more paintings when you're broke and sad, or are you more creative when you've recently sold work and had a few back slaps?
Below: Photos from the opening night of Annunciation
The show is on till Oct 17th
(Above) Camila in front of Fire has it’s own weather', 2020 Enamel & acrylic on board 90x120cm
Mediums', 2020 Enamel on canvas 42x30cm
CHARLIE SMITH LONDON, 336 Old St, 2nd Floor, Shoreditch, London EC1V 9DR. To receive preview images or further information please register your interest here: email@example.com
Above: Zavier Ellis, the director of Charlie Smith Gallery
Above: Suzanne in front of the painting, Bad Servant
Above: Harry and Paul
Friday 18 September – Saturday 17 October 2020
Only one individual, couple, household or group of six will be permitted to attend the exhibition at any one time / Booking is not required