August 2011, Julia Schwartz at Bleicher Gallery La Brea

Julia Schwartz, Land V (carnival), 2011
Oil on canvas 36x40 inches
Courtesy of the artist and Blecher Gallery

Julia Schwartz: The Hollow Sea
Bleicher Gallery
La Brea, Los Angeles
August 9 through September 5, 2011

Psychoanalysis is the process of bringing awareness to our unconscious to find the connections between our actions today and our experiences from infancy on. It is the constant discovery of why are we doing, what we're doing. The analyst functions like a detective, putting together the puzzle pieces and pointing out recurrent behavior patterns during free association. It is exactly in this manner that Los Angeles-based artist Julia Schwartz approaches her canvas. She claims to have no agenda or concept, before she soaks her brushes into paint. “My intention is to go to the studio without intention, at least no conscious intention. I try not to have any preconceived ideas,” she says.

The Hollow Sea appears to be more personal than Flesh and Bone and Figures. It is almost as if one suddenly takes on the role of the analyst looking into the artist's soul. Although the focus in Schwartz' new exhibit is still on the emotional state, this time she does not present it in figures but in abstracts, including organic forms, or better, works that are at a crossroads of abstracts and the figurative. “I was trying to find a way to convey about emotional states by stepping out of my comfort zone.” Hence shapes reminiscent of the biological make-up of human beings permeate her work. There is also the recurrent shape of nests, a symbol for home and a subject matter she dealt with extensively in her “Nest series.”

As in the analytic process, The Hollow Sea began with a free association during which Schwartz had an emotional response to the tsunami in Japan. Instead of painting photorealistic images of Japan after the catastrophe, however, Schwartz presents an important aspect of a traumatic experience, the feelings of imprisonment and isolation engendered by grief. She draws further inspiration from a poem by her psychiatrist husband Robert Stolorow, who wrote about his emotional state after the death of his first wife, who died of cancer at a young age, A glacier of sadness frozen within me. Ice immobile in a hollow sea melts no more. … no big event in Iceland.

Julia Schwartz, Ice I (The Hollow Sea), 2011
Oil on canvas 36x40 inches

Courtesy of the artist and Blecher Gallery

Schwartz uses the imagery of ice and Iceland in her husband's poem as a new influence. She explains “Although my work often takes as its starting point the human figure, to my mind the figure is really a means to an end. And the poem used ice as a metaphor for an emotional state. I had already done a series of island paintings after the Japan earthquake, so ice paintings was a natural evolution. And also natural for me is the gradual transformation as the work becomes more or less abstracted and is altered by the various aspects of my studio practice and life.”

One of the most striking works of the exhibit Land V Carnival shows one of the more developed variations in the ice series. An ice-blue surface and a dark bottom hold shapes in rainbow hues, suggesting perhaps an intestine, umbilical cord, neurons or brainwaves encircled by Schwartz's popular nests.

The artist stresses that meaning in her work is in the eye of the beholder. “I don't want to dictate the meaning, actually can't dictate the meaning because art is such a personal thing, one's experience of it is so personal, so subjective, and meaning is determined by a multitude of factors and influences.” The well-balanced composition and the use of exuberant colors on the ice-blue surface convey a pleasant emotional state, perhaps the moments, when we are able to put aside our grief and allow ourselves to take in the joys of life again.

Schwartz's accompanying catalog contains an artist statement and a curator statement by Courtney Reid, as well as an essay by friend Tracey Harnish.

Julia Schwartz, Ice II (Fortress of Solitude), 2011
Oil on canvas 40x36 inches

Courtesy of the artist and Blecher Gallery

Julia Schwartz, Land Study (Japan #4) 2011
Oil on canvas 6x6 inches

Courtesy of the artist and Blecher Gallery

Julia Schwartz, Land X (germinate), 2011
Oil on canvas 12x12 inches

Courtesy of the artist and Blecher Gallery

Simone Kussatz

Simone Kussatz is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles. She has written numerous articles in the field of the arts for international and national magazines published in Germany, the US and UK, China, Iceland, and Switzerland. Kussatz was born in Asperg, Germany. She holds a Master's degree in American Studies, journalism and psychology and received her education from Santa Monica College, UCLA and the Free University of Berlin. In 2004, she produced and hosted three TV-shows under the title "Metamorphosis", where she conducted interviews with Jewish artists in regard to the Holocaust. Kussatz has also worked in theater in the position of stage supervisor and manager in the plays “Talley’s Folly” and “The Immigrant.” She has taught English as a Second Language and served at Xiamen University in China, as well as EC Language Center in London.

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