Spencer Sweeney ‘Berlin Paintings’

Installation view, 'Berlin Paintings', VeneKlasen Werner, Berlin, 2013
VeneKlasen Werner, Berlin

VW (VeneKlasen/Werner) is pleased to present Berlin Paintings, an exhibition of new works by Spencer Sweeney. This is the artist’s second exhibition with VW.

New York-based artist Spencer Sweeney (b. Philadeplphia, 1973) is known for his work in performance and visual art. His multidisciplinary Teatr Laboratorium, presented at VW in 2010, embraced collaboration and experimentation. Joyfully disregarding boundaries of genre, Sweeney transformed the gallery into a workshop, laboratory, studio and stage, making public the typically private realm of the artist’s studio.
Berlin Paintings finds the artist looking inward. The exhibition presents a body of paintings created in Berlin. The works explore a narrative against a backdrop of references to modern art, experimental theatre and personal memory. Sweeney consciously adopted a technique of automatic painting, thereby employing subjectivity and allowing experimentation with different styles and methods of image making. Sweeney reworks his paintings several times, intuitively altering the compositions around his central themes.
Berlin Paintings draws on traditional genres of portrait and landscape, as well as imagery inspired by such diverse sources as tribal masks and Kabuki. Sweeney evokes the anxiety of the portrayed figure and allows melancholy and a mood of introspection to prevail. The works in Berlin Paintings possess a free painterly gesture reminiscent of Peter Saul, the sensibility of Martin Kippenberger, and the “Vache” period of Magritte.

Berlin Paintings is Sweeney’s second project for VW. Recent exhibitions include Gavin Brown’s enterprise, New York; Twig Gallery, Brussels; Jack Hanley Gallery, San Francisco; and The Modern Institute, Glasgow. Sweeney was included in That Was Then…This Is Now at PS1 Contemporary Art Center in 2008, and he participated in Day for Night, the 2006 Whitney Biennial. He lives and works in New York City.