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Xavier Hufkens

Walter Swennen

Walter Swennen is known for his radical, experiential and associative approach to painting, which is perhaps best summarised as a belief in the total autonomy of the artwork. For Swennen, a painting does not need to be ‘emotive’ or ‘understood’: the primary goal of painting is, quite simply, painting. Everything—form, colour, subject—comes from the outside. A poet before he became a painter, it is no coincidence that language plays a vital role in his practice. Although his oeuvre varies greatly in scale, style and materials, it can be construed as an on-going exploration into the nature and problems of painting (its potential and limitations), the fundamental question of what to paint (subject matter), and how (technique). The way that he handles motifs—he takes them as he finds them, high or low, and manipulates them at will—is akin to a kind of visual poetry that harks back to his early career as a writer. Freely associative, and above all humorous, Swennen’s paintings explore the relationship between symbols, legibility, meaning and pictorial treatment.

Walter Swennen (b. 1946, Brussels) lives and works in Brussels. A major retrospective will be held at Kunstmuseum Bonn in 2021, traveling to Gemeentemuseum Den Haag and Kunst Museum Winterthur. Solo exhibitions include La pittura farà da sé, La Triennale di Milano, Milan (2018); Ein perfektes Alibi, Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen, Düsseldorf (2015); So Far So Good, WIELS, Brussels (2013-14); Continuer, Culturgest Lisbon (2013); Garibaldi Slept Here, Kunstverein Freiburg (2012) and How To Paint A Horse, Cultuurcentrum Strombeek and De Garage, Mechelen (2008).

Selected Images

Selected media

  • In conversation with Isabelle Wéry

    On the occasion of Parti chercher du white spirit (2021)

  • In conversation with Miguel Wandschneider

    On the occasion of Un Cœur Pur (2019)

  • In conversation with Damien De Lepeleire

    On the occasion of HIC HAEC HOC (2016)

Exhibitions

Publications

  • Publication

    Walter Swennen
    TOO MANY WORDS

    texts by Hans Theys, includes additional correspondence, interviews, artist writings, and archival documents, published by Xavier Hufkens, 2021, 332 pages, English, French, Dutch

    Order — 50€
  • Publication

    Walter Swennen
    Hic Haec Hoc

    texts by Hans Theys, introduction by Francis Nicomède, published by Xavier Hufkens, 2016, 240 pages, English

    Order — 35€
  • Publication

    Walter Swennen
    Ne Quid Nimis

    text by Hans Theys, published by Zonder Titel, 2016, 302 pages, French, Dutch

    Order — 35€
  • Publication

    Walter Swennen
    Works on Paper

    text by Bart Verschaffel, published by Xavier Hufkens, 2015, 288 pages, English

    Sold out
  • Publication

    Walter Swennen
    So Far So Good

    edited by Raphaël Pirenne and Dirk Snauwaert, published by (SIC) and WIELS, 2013, 256 pages, English, Dutch, French

    Sold out
  • Publication

    Walter Swennen
    PIF

    text by Jan Florizoone, published by La Lettre Volée, 2004, 240 pages, English, French, Dutch

    Sold out

News

  • Announcement

    Walter Swennen in conversation

    In a new video filmed in the artist’s studio, Swennen discusses his latest exhibition Parti chercher du white spirit with Isabelle Wéry.

  • Museum Exhibition

    Walter Swennen
    The Phantom of Painting

    A travelling exhibition and the first overview of the artist’s work in a German museum.

    2 June—29 August 2021

    Kunstmuseum Bonn, Bonn, Germany

    External link
  • Museum Exhibition

    Walter Swennen
    The Kasterlee Case

    4 July—29 August 2021
    Frans Masereel Centrum, Kasterlee, Belgium