NASHIVILLE, TENN.- In Tinney Contemporarys current show, Peri Schwartzs colorful abstract paintings are interspersed with her large graphite drawings.
The subject of most of these pictures is the artists own studio, a 10th-floor corner office in a 1930s building in New Rochelle, N.Y. The effect of seeing alternating views of the space, in color and black and white as well as abstract and representational, is stunning.
The Architect Within will remain on view through March 24.
Its just there and its available at all times, Schwartz says of why she began focusing exclusively on her studio. Also, its something I can change and move around and rearrange as opposed to a landscape, a cityscape or even a portrait. Its something I can manipulate as much as I like.
Schwartz uses the space almost like a stage set, not only adjusting props, but also adding colors. For example, she paints drawing boards in hues complementary to those of the various art books she stacks in the foreground of her paintings.
Other pieces in the show depict an array of bottles and jars, scenes also staged in Schwartzs studio.
Originally these items were merely the ones used in her work; she started painting them after the colors of the contents caught her eye. Eventually, however, she began buying products simply so she could incorporate the vessels into her tablescapes.
Now she has 30 bottles and jars filled with linseed oil, red wine vinegar and other liquids. By altering their placement moving a bottle of clear alcohol behind the yellow linseed oil, for example she can intensify the colors to suit her composition.
Beyond convenience, Schwartz also focuses on her studio because she likes depictions of interiors.
I would be more drawn to an interior than I would be to a Turner painting, which is more ephemeral or atmospheric, she says.
She is particularly fond of Matisses paintings of studios and Vermeers domestic spaces. When she looks at Vermeer works, its not 17th-century coziness that appeals to her, rather shes drawn to the horizontals and verticals.
View of her world
Schwartzs drawings and paintings contain grid lines similar to a viewfinders hash marks. These are subtle, just enough of a presence to be noticed. They correspond to lines she draws on things in her studio the walls, table tops, etc. as shes reinterpreting them in her work.
That interpretation differs between the paintings and the drawings.
Though the drawings are usually done as studies for the paintings, they are in sharper focus and have a more polished look. Because they are less abstract, Schwartzs emphasis on lines is more obvious. The tension between diagonals (of tables and books) versus the straight lines (walls and windows) are especially evident.
Theres something about the crispness of the charcoal that I really love. It seems more important to get it absolutely right in a drawing than in a painting. I tend not to like a more finished look in a painting, Schwartz says.
In the drawings, the spaces seem calmer, neater. Details such as city views beyond the windows and the light-catching glass covering the table tops are included. The compositions are noisier in the paintings. Various items in the room are still recognizable but seem more chaotic in their abstracted state.
Again, this back and forth between the work heightens the effect of each piece.
Its a very hard balance to do representational art and abstract art, youre really on the fence, and I find thats where I want to be, Schwartz says. I need to look at a subject; its very important for me to be stimulated and excited by looking at something and yet I want it to be abstract.
Reproduced with permission from The Tennessean