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Strata #396 Drawing

Susan Schwalb

United States

Drawing, Silverpoint on Paper

Size: 12 W x 12 H x 1 D in

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About The Artwork

Description: My new drawings use the classical Renaissance technique of metalpoint in a way which challenges all the traditional concepts. Juxtaposing a wide variety of metals (silver, gold, brass, copper, platinum, pewter, bronze and aluminum) I obtain soft shifts in tone and color reminiscent of the luminous transparency of watercolor. Horizontal bands evoke an atmosphere of serenity, and the shimmer of light on the surface, created by the metals, is quite unlike any of the usual effects of metalpoint.I have been working on several groups of drawings all relatively intimate in scale. The series entitled "Strata" projects subtle, meditative relationships between the metallic bands.

Details & Dimensions

Drawing:Silverpoint on Paper

Original:One-of-a-kind Artwork

Size:12 W x 12 H x 1 D in

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1944 New York CitySusan Schwalb is one of the leading figures in the revival of the ancient technique of metalpoint drawing. She has developed a style which challenges all the traditional concepts. Relatively intimate in scale, these works juxtapose a variety of metals - gold, brass, copper, platinum, pewter, bronze, aluminum and silver - to create soft shifts of tone and color. The shimmer of light on the surface is quite unlike any of the usual effects of metalpoint. Sky, clouds, wind, hail, flood, sunlight, reflection: most of the paintings in this series have a landscape reference. I first began thinking about the horizon line and its implications when I was included in the exhibition At the Edge: The Horizon Line in Contemporary Art curated by Donna Harkavy and Margaret Mathew Berenson at Dorsky Gallery in 2001. Conversations with these curators helped me to understand that any horizontal line that divides a canvas is immediately read as a horizon. In fact, I remembered that whenever I drew in my sketchbook at the Cape or at other beaches I instinctively began with a simple line navigating the page. My last body of paintings was conceived around memories of various kinds of light. In this new work the allusion to landscape is more overt, and landscape inevitably evokes weather. I have used my usual technique of silverpoint drawing combined with acrylic on wood, but in these new paintings I laid down several layers of color before I began the drawing. Then I sanded the surface, not only to make it smoother, but also to allow the underlying colors to emerge, frequently as fragmentary, irregular or ghostly events. In this way the surface is more distressed than in past works: atmospheric effects were very much on my mind. The procedure became even more complex in several triptychs entitled Incident in the Mist which required a second sanding, accompanied by additional silverpoint drawing, to bring out an explosive image that can be read in a variety of ways. There is a wide range of references in this show from the unsettling ambiguity of these triptychs to the calm horizontal lines of the Tundra paintings and the unique four-part piece which I named Quartet because it seemed to me to have a particular musical resonance.

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