SWART
“And What of Her Innocence?” by Adam Swart. COURTESY ADAM SWART

Departures
Through June 13
Opening reception
Saturday, April 28, 6:30-9 p.m.

73 See Gallery & Design Studio
73 Pine St

Facebook.com/73SeeGallery
973-746-8737

By GIOYA MCRAE
For Montclair Local

Though the exhibition “Departures” at 73 See Gallery consists of paintings in two dimensions, it has several dimensions to it.

“One is the point of departure where an artist takes his or her inspiration from. The second is the idea that unless you’re replicating the exact same thing over and over, everything you do is a departure from what you’ve already done. It’s always striving to try something new and to push yourself into a place you haven’t been before. Then, of course, the third reference is the departures of the people these paintings are really in tribute to, the departures of these people who meant a lot to me, who are no longer with us, but are obviously still part of my world and who I am and what I hold valuable,” said Adam Swart. The Montclair resident work is on display at 73 See Gallery & Design Studio through June 13.

“Departures” integrates Swart’s influences from his days in the Peace Corps in Nepal and his travels throughout Asia as “a comprehensive overview of the arc of my work,” said Swart, who is also the Art Gallery Education Coordinator of Montclair State University’s George Segal Gallery.

The exhibition, which incorporates 29 oil and mixed-media paintings created over the last decade, includes work from four of Swart’s collections. “Crimes and Celebrations,” Swart’s earliest collection, reflects on the impact of his visit to the Tuol Sleng Museum of Genocide in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The “Kumari Lakshan” collection was painted during Swart’s residency at the Kathmandu Contemporary Arts Centre (Nepal) in the fall of 2010. “The Great Wagon Chronicles” embodies Swart’s contemplation of the poem “A Great Wagon” by Rumi.

The “Departures” collection began when Swart received news of the death of a boy he refers to as his “Nepali nephew.”

Swart
“Sacred Sorrow, Sacred Soil” by Adam Swart. IMAGE COURTESY ADAM SWART

Gallery owner Mary Z. Scotti was struck by the depth of Swart’s work. “Each series was dealing so much with interpretations of the human condition and trying to bring light to that in different ways,” Scotti said. “He’s just created this tremendous scope and breadth to his work over the past several years.

“His latest work has cohesiveness. He’s developing his own sense of imagery and complexity in his paintings. They are abstract in a sense that they have all these layers to them that things get buried and then they resurface. They demand your time. You have to sit with each one to really grasp what’s going on in it. That was exciting to me.”

Swart agreed that he seeks to express empathy in his work.

“In some cases and in some bodies of work that’s definitely the case. In most cases, I don’t attempt to make overt, direct statements.

“There are a few pieces in the ‘Crimes and Celebrations’ series where that may not be the case because I’ve used collage elements that do reveal the inspirational source of the painting. One example is the piece called ‘And What of Her Innocence?,’ which has a photograph of a young Cambodian girl at the bottom center of the painting. That’s an example where if you look at the title of the painting and you look at the only recognizable image in the painting, you can kind of put it together. Maybe this is not clear that this is a child victim of the Khmer Rouge, but there’s obviously something being said or suggested about this girl being a victim of something.”

The Khmer Rouge perpetuated ugliness, but Swart said, “I just hope that people remember that there’s beauty in the world and that some of it needs to be created. It’s created by artists whether they’re musicians or dancers or filmmakers or singers. There should be a value on arts in a society. Remember that there’s beauty in the world and it’s important to look for it and embrace it.”