Chuck Swanson, Untitled, mixed media /panel, 20 in x 16 in

The New, the Old, and the New Again 

An exhibit by Chuck Swanson
Kore Gallery

A review by Kaylyn Taylor

Entire contents are copyright © 2024 by Kaylyn Taylor. All rights reserved.

Stalwart and inspirational Louisville-based artist, mentor, and former gallery owner Chuck Swanson opened a 26-piece exhibit at Kore Gallery this past Saturday, June 8.  The pieces are hung with numbers as identifiers, and viewers can reference the titles via a printed pamphlet. The result is a purely visual offering of the component parts of these compositions, uncluttered by possible “meaning”. We, as viewers, are invited to consider how each piece relates to others and explore how the energy of the art transcends the media and creates its own vocabulary. Then, as an additional interesting and insightful aspect, the artist’s title can be referenced, and the exploration into the piece is renewed, with added dimension. 

The pieces in the collection share many compositional similarities. The dominant color palette is muted earth tones, punctuated by a few deeply saturated primary colored pieces that serve to illuminate the soft, hazy hue. The layering of the colors creates a subtle depth that draws us into the composition, creating subtle movement. The exploration of line, curve, proportion, dimension, and relationship of positive/negative space further articulates this movement. Each piece and the overall exhibit have a remarkable sense of balance. 

Two large sepia-toned representational compositions anchor the exhibit. Passage #1 depicts in the foreground two figures in a boat, with the water and shore as the middle ground, and the sky as the background. A mild glow surrounds the head and face of a youth, who is gazing out, beyond the picture plane. Passage #2 is water and landscape with a vanishing point beyond the landline. The landscape is reflected in the water, bisecting the composition. The resulting reflection has an abstract quality, being edited to almost basic shapes. This abstraction is found in the remaining 24 pieces of the exhibit.

The mixed media wall sculpture Mountain Home seems to derive its dominant triangular form, topped with a rectangle and spire, from the negative space found in the foreground of Passage #2. As if incised from the canvas and magnified, we see that the shape is composed of several narrow strips of wood, tracking vertically in the triangle, and horizontally in the other areas—the movement echoes currents of water, tightening the relationship between the two pieces. The overall color is an inviting warm lustrous gold offset by a square slate gray metal plaque resting centrally at the base of the triangle. Below this square is a rounded knob planked by the wood. The square is also found in Passage #2, and this repetition of form allows us to travel from the waterscape, through the vanishing point to the rounded knob, suggesting a landing and means of entry into the home. We are brought to the elemental.

Lucky Incident also explores this interchange of positive and negative space. In this piece, the picture plane is bisected, and the right side of the composition is divided into four sections: one long slate gray vertical rectangle and three squares of various colors to its right. The center square is dominated by a curved form. The left side of the composition is the same planked wood motif of Mountain Home, with a warm golden hue. Incised upon that field is also a curved form, but is larger. The smaller of the curve could fit into the larger arc. The balance in this piece is sublime. The initial color balance of warm and cool tones is elaborated upon by the juxtaposition of gold to blue and green, and of cream (light) to gray (dark). The planking creates a larger mass than the division of the right side of the canvas, yet those parts are larger than the individual planks. The right side of the composition is more static than the left, which vibrates with energy created by the planks, yet the curve on the right side is stronger than the curve on the left, although it is smaller. This interplay of detail gives depth and complexity to a seemingly simple image.

Located above and to the left of Lucky Incident is a small slate gray piece entitled Encore. The curves have migrated beyond the picture plane and now exist as a mass. The angle and the lighting of the piece create a shadow of gray color gradation on the gallery wall. The shape and tones of the shadow is then echoed in Module, found nearby on the wall to the right. In a similar incised fashion, the sculpture We’ve All Got Wheels seems to be a cross-section of the pair Composition #1 and Composition #2. The sculptural pieces pull the pictures off the wall and into three-dimensional space, allowing for even further inspection and contemplation. This movement and interaction dominates the collection. In and of itself,

Don Cartwright’s Kore Gallery is a wonderful visual cacophony. The gallery (5700 total square feet) houses the paintings, sculptures, and mixed media pieces of over 90 artists. Chuck Swanson’s exhibit The New, the Old, and the New Again is displayed in its own room, offset from the array of art, allowing it to create its own harmony through the reverberations of its own cohesive visual code.  

The New, the Old, and the New Again 

June 8 – July 7, 2024

Kore Gallery
942 E Kentucky Street
Hope Mills Building 
Louisville, KY, 40204

Kaylyn Taylor graduated from the University of Louisville a while ago with BA’s in English and Humanities with a focus in Art History. Her interest in these subjects guide how she processes her environment. She aspires to find art in unexpected places, and it’s an enjoyable pursuit. She is fortunate to have a great immediate family, and a family of friends as well.