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Review of Avery Schwartz

by John Clay

Avery Schwartz's paintings are rough and muscular in technique and message. The color works seem to be a direct expression of the artist's thought and touch. The figurative works seem to depict people oppressed and seeking freedom and people for whom freedom will come too late. Though some are naturalistic and some are abstract, all are bold and physical.

The two black-and-white paintings with the "flashlight" or "searchlight" effect—one showing a woman dead (or near dead) on the ground, and the other showing a man groping his way toward hoped-for freedom—grab us with the effect but then hold our attention with the image revealed. The painting "Master Plan" gives a first impression of scribbling, but on contemplation reveals a landscape of contours the eye and the mind want to explore. And what is that horizon line near the top of the page? The world of the drawing stops and there is nothing left but an empty sky of blank paper. Schwartz's work displays good color sense, a boldness in commiting strokes to the canvas, and a sense of adventure its melding of figuration and abstraction, of painterly strokes and scratched and scrawled strokes.

Some of the work could be strengthened through greater attention to composition. The focal point on the canvas seems clearer in the more figurative works. The abstract works are in danger of presenting an appealing wash of colors and shapes without making a coherent visual statement. Here the strength of the strokes gives way to a weakness of organization. "Cisco Finds Steak" bucks this trend; it is both abstract and cohesive.

I would look forward to seeing a continued exploration of abstraction, but with the same compositional focus found in the figurative works.

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