Contemplating Vermeer

acrylic on canvas


Gary Schwartz
Artist Statement 2013 Passages: As evening falls and the harsh sun inches out of a quaint piazza, an evening ritual is bound to begin, the Italian tradition of passeggiata, a gentle stroll (slow! think slow!) through the main streets of the old town, usually in the pedestrian zones in the centro storico, the historic center. I treated myself to a Roman holiday for my 50th birthday in the winter of 2011. This was my second visit after a 28 year hiatus. Although it was Christmas and only natural to be wandering the labyrinth of streets until all hours, I found myself transfixed by the tradition of la passeggiata. As a New York City native, one must always have a reason for getting from point A to point B, and getting there as quickly as humanly possible. Not so much in Rome, where if you do as they do the reason for being is the journey itself. The work in this series of acrylic paintings is a journey. It comprises the imagery of a tourist on vacation in a medieval European city, but also the imagery of one’s passage from early childhood as recollected through archival snapshots. Using my own digital photography or vintage 35mm slides from family collections, I filter the photographs in Photoshop. I then project the digital sketch onto canvas and do a tight blueprint drawing, in keeping with traditional photorealism. Then I paint an acrylic underpainting and usually three more built up layers. The finished piece should evoke a retro color by number that I was addicted to as a child, but I also hope to infuse the painting with an edgy contemporary quality as well. This series will include images from Italy, Russia, Prague, and my home town of Coney Island. I am looking forward to delving further into this technique of vintage/pop/contemporary hyper realism, but also exploring the deeper influence that my trip to Rome afforded, and my contemplative sensation of La Passegiatta.