An Interview with Kelsey Shwetz

by Kate Nemeth
Kelsey Shwetz is currently in Spain at an artist’s residency. The following interview with the artist was completed via email.
Where are you from?
I moved to New York from Montreal, Quebec, in Canada about a year ago. I was born in Winnipeg, a smallish prairie city in central Canada.
Where did you study?
 I’ve received my Bachelor of Arts (Honors) at University of Manitoba in Canada. Although I’ve of taken studio arts courses throughout my undergraduate career I actually majored in Psychology. My honors thesis examined how contingent individuals’ judgements are on social influence, how malleable they really are. 

 What lead you to painting what you paint?
To continue in the same vein as my previous answer, I view painting as a vehicle for social change. I’m attuned to the fact that painting is this traditional medium that historically has been used to reinforce communal values and illustrate the Ideal. So, using long-established techniques such as oil glazing and referencing classical compositions I depict menstruation, de-eroticized vaginas, gender ambiguity, non-intrusive erections, and expressions of feminine sexuality.  By presenting these classically aestheticized concepts coupled with the conventional framework of oil paint, canvas, and gallery I attempt to enter these concepts into public dialogue, and ultimately to de-stigmatize, exalt, and canonize them. I’m also really interesting in the relationship between model and painter. How the pre-existing relationship between them is transmitted to the finished piece.

How long does it take you per finished piece?
It depends. I have two vocabularies I’m exploring in my work. The first (as I mentioned above) is a careful, structured, classical approach where I use grids, reference photos, drawings, underpainting etc. and usually takes anywhere from two months to one year to complete a piece. The second technique is much more loose and free; I’m using alla prima (painting wet on wet) for these ones, which are done from life and usually in one or two sittings. This is where the piece is more about the relationship between model and painter. I usually complete these in three hours to two days.
-How did you hear about Salon Ciel?
-One of the members of BLONDE (Beata Chrzanowska) had a solo show that Salon Ciel put on, I went to it, and there met Robert Gerhardt who told me about it. 
Has your art been exhibited previously and if so, where?
-Yes. I’ve shown at the Belgo Building and Studio10King in Montreal; INDEXG in Toronto; C.C.C.P. Gallery, Steuben South Gallery, the Metropolitan Plaza, and Studio 200 in New York; Rio Bravo Gallery in New Mexico; Anant Residency in India; 114 Boulevard Saint-Germainin Paris; and Galerie Bambu in Costa Rica. 
Who is/are your favorite artist/s?
-Lucien Freud and Henri Matisse.


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