The Lighter Side of Darkness
Based in Sydney, Australia, Steven Schwarz is an emerging artist with great potential. Steven’s work defies categorization. Much of it is abstract, yet somehow hyper-representational. An underlying mood of dark fantasy pervades his work. Enigmatic and complex, his paintings pulse with a compressed meaning that is continuously shifting and changing, always tantalizingly close but never quite in reach. Steven delights in paradox and ambiguity; his mysterious creations invite deeper exploration. The work seems full of profound emotion and significance impossible to understand or even identify, but which leaves you exhilarated and confused in equal measure.
Is there a connection between your music, writing and artwork? Do you explore common themes that cut across all three disciplines?
Absolutely. My words and images provoke each other! For example, a while back I wrote a short story called "The Magic Painting" about a painting that is a portal to other worlds. Writing the story provoked the painting, “Portal to Forever”, which in turn provoked a piece of “portal-jumping” music, called “Nanofauna”.
The mood of your paintings is sombre, often confronting. The palette is high-contrast, with hyper-vivid colors against deep, dark backgrounds. Do you engage with the art to explore your innermost emotions and insights? Do you derive a psychological or spiritual satisfaction or resolution from your work?
I do aim for resolution, but never get there. I don’t get any satisfaction from producing the art, in fact I often have to force myself to paint. I’m a reluctant artist. I prefer to engage directly with Reality, rather than at arm's length with a paintbrush in one hand and a tube of Prussian Blue in the other.
And what's the meaning of Art anyway? Where's the value? Painting, for example, is nothing more than arranging molecules of matter upon a surface that reflects light into the eye of an observer to produce electrical currents in the observer's brain. Is that any kind of job for a grown man or woman?
Much of your work is abstract, with little realism or representationalism. Are you more at home in inner space than “everyday space”, so to speak?
Yes, but that’s not why the work is abstract. The reason is, I never learned to draw! I’ve never had any formal or informal training. I’m not even self-taught! But the lack of training suits my approach to painting, which is to allow the painting to paint itself. I try to allow the work to emerge without interference on the part of the artist. I consciously try to paint unconsciously, avoiding making any decisions about color, shape, line or even composition. I try to give randomness complete control and freedom. As a result, I never know when a painting is finished. It’s a big problem!
Your more recent work seems to be turning away from abstract subject matter towards a greater realism, for example, in your painting, “Pointless”. Is this a brief excursion into a different style, or does it represent a substantially different direction for the longer-term?
Greater realism? When did you last see a blue dog with chequer-board ears? Or a blood-bloated brain-slug on the forehead of a man with no ears or nostrils? And before you ask what it all means, let me remind you of the title. The point is that it’s Pointless. Or to put it another way: there is no “authorized” meaning or interpretation. We are all unique meaning-makers: that’s the job every human works at, 24 hours a day, awake or sleep.
In his writing, Steven Schwarz takes a wicked delight exposing the dark underbelly of human culture. His fiction includes the self-published e-book of short stories, Nightmerries, the Lighter Side of Darkness, (…"read ‘em and weep"). But his attacks on modern human culture are at their strongest and sharpest in his poetry, self-published in “Awarewolf & Other Crhymes Against Humanity (Vot could be Verse?)”. As he puts it, “We all hate poetry, right? But what if it were totally hellgrown, twisted and wicked? Epic, even?”
A Sight for Saw Eyes