Rohan Schwartz
rohanschwartz@gmail.com

Biography


Rohan Schwartz is a Naarm/Melbourne-based artist. Over several years Schwartz's practice has been informed by his lived experiences, and enriched by significant ideas within Zen and Stoic philosophies, as well as literature ranging from metaphysics to nostalgia, micro and macro studies on the cosmos. Through time, works have elaborated his interest in cultural and historical interpretations; human sentience and our maladaptation to the natural world we are a part/apart; and commemorated the vital practices of underground art-makers Janenne Eaton and Chris Marker. His practice operates as a deeply sustained reflection on human doubt, violence, indifference and illusion. He also works as part of Normal Gallery, a three-person collaboration, whose independent projects have been undertaken in Australia, China and North Korea.

Since graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Art, Honours (Painting) from the Victorian College of the Arts in 2009, Schwartz has exhibited in galleries including the National Gallery of Victoria, 2010, Daine Singer Gallery, 2019, West Space, 2013, TCB Art Inc., 2011, Margaret Lawrence Gallery, 2017, C3 Contemporary Art Space, 2016, Seventh Gallery, 2010, REAR VIEW, 2010, Number Eight Agnes Street, 2014, Substation Gallery, 2011, George Paton Gallery, 2009, MADA Gallery, 2010, and others. Over the tenure of 2017-18 he undertook an artist residency at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image's ACMI X.

Schwartz recognises that the sacred land on which he works is unceded, and would like to acknowledge the first and continuing owners and custodians of this land, the Wurundjeri and Bunurong people of the Kulin Nation. He offers deep respect to their elders both past and present and through them, to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

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Rohan Schwartz, Deep Field Variation #2, Oil, enamel and resin on board, 2019-20

Rohan Schwartz, Deep Field Variation #6, Oil, enamel, decals and sand on board, 2019-20

Rohan Schwartz, Deep Field Variation #5, Oil, enamel, glass and sand on board, 2019-20


DEEPFIELD


An upcoming solo exhibition in 2020 (date TBC due to Covid-19) at TCB Art Inc., Brunswick, Melbourne.


This new body of monochromatic paintings currently in development poetically explores my lived experience of chronic pain. Over recent years I have developed a sensitised nervous system from over-exposure to pain, and as such, live expressions of pain each and every day. But still after years of embodied experience, learning and reflection, pain remains utterly mysterious to me and the people around me.


Mark Twain once expressed that we ‘live a short distance between brain and body’, and modern life reifies this notion of separateness in contemporary society. In framing the work I have been creating, I have, as though a meditation on the subject, been challenging myself to close this perceived gap. The exploration I am undertaking in this body of work contemplates pain holistically as a lived experience reflecting on the irresolute and indeterminate, that which can be felt and sensed but not seen (akin to the conditions with which we understand dark matter and dark energy–its profound influence upon other matter yet is not within our perception).

‘As if all there were, were fireflies /
And from them you could infer the meadow’
– An analogy of dark-matter by the poet and
dark-matter physicist Rebecca Elson.


The paintings have a direct aesthetic relationship to the subjective processes and outcomes generated through telescopic imaging of outer space and matter under microscope, where concentrations on different light waves and elements show markedly distinct visible results (where matter invisible in composite images is clearly defined through limiting informational input). Simultaneously, the works reference patterns, materials and textures of our Earth’s matter (sand, ice, water, gas and rock formations). The result is a complex interchanging surface with no definitive viewing angle.

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Rohan Schwartz. 'Couper le Soleil' (a homage to Janenne Eaton, works of 1987-93), 2016, (installation view) c3 Contemporary Art Space, Abbotsford, Melbourne. 120 Slide Film, Transparency Film, 7x Magnifier Loupe, Perspex, Fluorescent Light, Electrical Extension Lead, BluTack, MDF Timber

Rohan Schwartz. 'Couper le Soleil' (a homage to Janenne Eaton, works of 1987-93), 2016 (plane view)

Rohan Schwartz. 'Couper le Soleil' (a homage to Janenne Eaton, works of 1987-93), 2016 (loupe detail)

This work was made with the guidance and support of Piers Morgan,
Vaughan Howard, Ryan Wheatley, Katie Paine, Hilary Sadek and Janenne Eaton.


COUPER LE SOLÉIL


'Couper le Soléil' is a recent work for a group exhibition, 'An Excavation', curated by Katie Paine at c3 Contemporary Art Space. The year before, Schwartz began working as an archivist for Janenne Eaton and was tasked with cleaning, restoring and digitising slide film documentation of her works made between 1987-91. In looking deep into those images’ pixels and hazed plateaus of colour and tone, Schwartz became fascinated with the dust particles which floated in zones of exact yet indescribable space. With qualities similar to NASA’s Cassini’s imaging of the rings of Saturn, Schwartz took to rendering medium format documentation slides of screen-capture compositions of dust particles, in homage to Eaton's ineffable formations and inexplicable moments in space and time.

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Rohan Schwartz. 'The Golden Lion', 2014 (installation view) Number Eight Agnes Street, Thornbury, Melbourne.



Rohan Schwartz. 'Showreel: The Golden Lion & People's Chi (2014)', 5 minutes. For further information see video description.

This work has been made with the guidance and support of Vaughan Howard, Matthew Greaves and Daniel Stephen Miller.


THE GOLDEN LION


The Golden Lion was an exhibition for which Schwartz brought his assemblage practice to an intimate wood-panelled lounge room in a suburban house. The exhibition comprised of altered magazines, videos documenting fitness dancing groups in Southwest China and screen grabs of the artist’s Google Calendar.

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Rohan Schwartz. 'Pictures at an Exhibition', 2013, (installation view), West Space, Melbourne.

Rohan Schwartz. 'Pictures at an Exhibition', 2013, (installation view), West Space, Melbourne.

This work has been made with the guidance and support of Guillaume Savy,
Aurelia Yueyi Guo, Vaughan Howard, Matthew Greaves and Daniel Stephen Miller.


PICTURES AT AN EXHIBITION


'Pictures at an Exhibition' was an exhibition at West Space in Melbourne, 2013, which payed homage the oeuvre of the late French filmmaker and artist, Chris Marker. Artworks ranged from one-sheet posters, a Guillaume-en-Egypte cat t-shirt; selective soft cover bootleg reprints of Marker's one-off fiction novel, The Forthright Spirit; a translation from French-to-English of Alexandre Kha’s Marker fictional biography, The Image Catcher; comic-book homage by Max Moswitzer, Ouvroir - A Voyage with Sergei Murasaki; and a text work by Janenne Eaton. The exhibition relayed Marker's obscure and only occasionally distributed works in more accessible and tangible formats.

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Rohan Schwartz. 'No comma after realm', 2010, (first installation view) RearView Gallery, Collingwood, Melbourne.

Rohan Schwartz. 'No comma after realm', 2010, (second installation view) RearView Gallery, Collingwood, Melbourne.

This work has been made with the guidance and support of Vaughan Howard, Matthew Greaves and Simon McGlinn.


NO COMMA AFTER REALM


Bringing together paintings, photographs and video that appropriated images from traditional sources of print and intimate and mundane experiences, exhibition No comma after realm contemplated the heedlessness of time and boundlessness of desire as it surveyed an assembled landscape of monuments: a Dalai Lama postcard; a Babylonian tablet that predicts future eclipses; and a full page advertisement––all of which, for Schwartz, attest to both the impediment of ignorance and the search for insight.


The works interrogated the frontier of definition and worldly frontiers for conquer and occupation. A digital photo frame that displays the happy-snap of two astronauts in front of the Hubble telescope and a painting of one of the Buddhas of Bamyan monuments as it looked before the Taliban destroyed it, are works that reveal this enquiry. A stereoscopic rendering of an overloaded ‘New Concept Car Sales’ advertisement taken from a tabloid newspaper becomes a poster on the gallery wall – the three-D gimmick giving this verbiage perceptual depth in compensation for its lingual shallowness. This metaphorical snow blindness underpins the entire exhibition.

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Rohan Schwartz. 'REM, U2, ACDC and UB40 www.youtube.com' ('A wound, disembodied' installation view), 2010, Seventh Gallery, Fitzroy, Melbourne. These prints comprise multi layered screen capture stills from a music video sourced on YouTube, compressed to a single image.


Rohan Schwartz. 'Emergents' and 'Quark Gluon Soup' ('A wound, disembodied' installation view), 2010, Seventh Gallery, Fitzroy, Melbourne.

This work has been made with the guidance and support of Krishnamurti
Suparka, Vaughan Howard and Matthew Greaves.


'A WOUND, DISEMBODIED'


'A wound, disembodied' was an exhibition of drawings, photomontages and videos by Rohan Schwartz and Krishnamurti Suparka. Both artists’ works explored the compression of image and sight, and query the character(s) of human experience, evoking the heedlessness of time and the impediment of ignorance. ‘A wound, disembodied’ is a reference to Chris Marker’s film, Sans Soleil; its discussion of memory and forgetting.


For the exhibition, Schwartz created large-scale, wraithlike prints by superimposing every frame of a music video upon each other at an equal transparency; pragmatic collages created by laying open magazines; and a video that shows an old white plasterboard wall going in and out of focus as the video camera which shot the footage struggles to decipher an object in its field of vision. Suparka presented a body of exceedingly elaborate drawings. Though those works on paper appear flat and resolute, closer inspection reveals these monochromatic micro-terrains to be vibrating with mutilated words.

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Normal Gallery
(Matthew Greaves, Daniel Stephen Miller, and Rohan Schwartz)


Normal Gallery does not make or participate in exhibitions. Rather, its projects seek and engage primary audiences outside the art world, without funding, support or facilitation from existing art institutions.



Normal Gallery. 'Peace Badges', 2013, 100 custom-manufactured lapel badges, unsolicited gift-giving to North Korean citizens, various locations, Pyongyang, North Korea – dimensions unknown.


Normal Gallery. 'Peace Badges', 2013, 100 custom-manufactured lapel badges, unsolicited gift-giving to North Korean citizens. Documentation of tour, outside Kumsusan Palace of the Sun, Pyongyang, North Korea. Pictured: Daniel Stephen Miller (left), Rohan Schwartz (centre), and Matthew Greaves (right).

More information here.


PEACE BADGES


'Peace Badges' is the most recent project by three-person collaboration Normal Gallery (NG). Completed in 2013, it involved members travelling to North Korea, taking on the role of tourists on an "independent tour". Within the framework of this act of niche tourism NG set up the conditions for the making of an artwork. Wearing smart clothing NG managed to surreptitiously hand out miniature artworks-as-gifts: 100 peace badges the size and shape of the typical North Korean ‘waving flag’ loyalty badge.

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Normal Gallery. ‘Australian Statues’, 2013, self-organised sales tour of Chinese streets and marketplaces. Documentation of streetside stall in Heiqiao Village, Beijing, China, July – dimensions unknown.

Normal Gallery. ‘Australian Statues’, 2013, self-organised sales tour of Chinese streets and marketplaces. Documentation of streetside stall in Heiqiao Village, Beijing, China, July – dimensions unknown.

More information here.


AUSTRALIAN STATUES


In ‘Australian Statues’, Normal Gallery spent 300 hours painstakingly re-painting hundreds of Chinese-made souvenir Australian Aboriginal figurines. Now re-cast as archetypal Europeans, NG returned the figurines to China in what art critic Dylan Rainforth called a “coals-to-Newcastle exercise”. In provinces across the mainland, NG sold them on the street and in marketplaces at cost price, using the form of street-level commerce as a pretext for open-ended discussions with Chinese citizens about institutionalised labor, art production, and international trade.

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