William Swanson

Print print



Born: 1970, Chicago, IL


1992 Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, RI
Bachelor of Fine Arts, Painting
1989-91 Brown University, Providence, RI
Liberal Arts Studies

Selected Solo Exhibitions:

2012 VOLTA New York, presented by Marx & Zavattero, San Francisco, CA
2011 "Groundwork," Marx & Zavattero, San Francisco, CA
2010 "Mass Continuum," Walter Maciel Gallery, Culver City, CA
2009 "Architectonic," DCKT Contemporary, New York, NY
2008 "The Impact Curve," Marx & Zavattero, San Francisco, CA
2007 "Views Beneath a Mechanistic Wilderness," Walter Maciel Gallery, Culver City, CA
2005 "all in electric lights," Heather Marx Gallery, San Francisco, CA
"Pathways to Apparent Brightness," Site-specific installation at View 155,
San Francisco Arts Commission Gallery, San Francisco, CA
2004 "Landscape Modification," DCKT Contemporary, New York, NY
2003 "openendless," Heather Marx Gallery, San Francisco, CA
-scope Miami (Featured Artist), TownHouse Hotel, Miami Beach, FL
"Visual Purple," Southern Exposure, San Francisco, CA
-scope New York (Featured Artist), Dylan Hotel, New York, NY
2002 "Growth Studies," Heather Marx Gallery, San Francisco, CA
1999 "Active Transport," a.o.v. gallery, San Francisco, CA

Selected Group Exhibitions:

2011 “Sea Change: The 10th Anniversary Exhibition,” Marx & Zavattero, San Francisco, CA
2010 "I Want to Feel at Home Here," Milepost 5, Portland, OR (curated by Megan Scheminske)
2008 "Future Tense: Reshaping the Landscape," Neuberger Museum of Art, Purchase, NY
"Kick Out the Jams," The Luggage Store, San Francisco, CA
2007 "Outside: Contemporary Landscape Art," Cypress College Art Gallery, Cypress, CA (curated by Paul Paiement)
2006 "The Eighth Annual Miami University Young Painters Competition: William and Dorothy Yeck Award Exhibition," Miami University, Oxford, OH (juried by
Jerry Saltz)
"As Good As Your Next Gig," Walter Maciel Gallery, Culver City, CA
2005 "Welcome 2 the Jungle," DCKT Contemporary, New York, NY
"Sprawl," Haley Martin Gallery (in collaboration with Ampersand International Arts), San Francisco, CA (curated by Robert Gutierrez, Amanda Hughen, and Jennifer Starkweather)
"Built Against Site," Paragraph, Kansas City, MO
2004 "2-1/2: Art at the Corner of Two and Three Dimensions," Fine Arts Gallery,
San Francisco State University, San Francisco, CA (curated by Paul Mullins)
-scope Miami, TownHouse Hotel, Miami Beach, FL
"Eye Candy," Transamerica Pyramid, San Francisco, CA (curated by
Helen Varola)
"intercourse: The Bay Area Show," Tangent Gallery, Detroit, MI (curated by Sacha Eckes)
-scope New York, Hotel Gansevoort, New York, NY
2003 "Beautiful Pressure," Rocket Projects, Miami, FL (curated by Nina Arias)
"edge: Fresh Visions," Gensler, San Francisco, CA (curated by Britta Campbell)
"Back in Black," Cohan Leslie and Browne, New York, NY
"The Future That Never Happened," Ghettogloss, Los Angeles, CA
"The Surreal Netherworlds of Donald Traver and William Swanson,"
Bank of America Plaza Gallery, San Francisco, CA
"Assembly," The Front Room, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY (curated by Jordan Isip and Rodger Stevens)
2002 "Bay Area Now 3," Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, CA
"Retrofuturist," New Langton Arts, San Francisco, CA
"Grupo," Juice Design, San Francisco, CA
"Monster Drawing Rally," Southern Exposure, San Francisco, CA
"Post Postcard," Southern Exposure, San Francisco, CA
"The Panorama Project," Gallery 69a, San Francisco, CA
2001 "The Inaugural Exhibition," Heather Marx Gallery, San Francisco, CA
"Monster Drawing Rally," Southern Exposure, San Francisco, CA
"Paintaholics," New Image Art, Los Angeles, CA
"Art Sale V," The Lab, San Francisco, CA
"Recent Works by Various Artists," a.o.v gallery, San Francisco, CA
2000 "Signal Detection and Recognition by Human Observers," The Luggage Store,
San Francisco, CA
"Pierogi Flatfiles," Post Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
"Pictura Plastica Perfecto," New Image Art, Los Angeles, CA
"Things Get Dangerous," Blue Books Gallery, New College, San Francisco, CA
"Multiple Sensations: Pierogi 2000 Flatfiles," Yerba Buena Center for the Arts,
San Francisco, CA
"Poster Renaissance," New Image Art, Los Angeles, CA
"Summerland," postandbeam, San Francisco, CA
"S.F. Drawing Show," New Image Art, Los Angeles, CA
"Hand vs. Mouth," Blue Books Gallery, New College, San Francisco, CA
1999 "Millenium," City Arts Gallery, City College of San Francisco, San Francisco, CA; Renny Pritikin, Juror
1998 "emerge," Gen Art Annual Juried Show, The San Francisco Art Institute, San Francisco, CA
1997 "shrink," Southern Exposure, San Francisco, CA; Julie Lazar, Juror
1995 "12" x 12"," RISD Museum of Art, Providence, RI
1993 "Calculated Risk," Lorraine Kessler Gallery, Poughkeepsie, NY
1992 AS220, Providence, RI
"Group Invitational 92," Woods Gerry Gallery, Providence, RI
"A Quiet Invasion," Lorraine Kessler Gallery, Poughkeepsie, NY

Selected Collections:

Microsoft Art Collection, Sunnyvale, CA
Wellington Management, Boston, MA
The West Collection, Oaks, PA
Adobe Systems Inc., San Jose, CA
J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. Art Collection, San Francisco, CA
UBS Financial Services Inc., Atlanta, GA
The Progressive Art Collection, Mayfield Village, OH
Capital Group, Los Angeles, CA
Robert Mailer Anderson, San Francisco, CA


2012 The Editors, "Smart Art for $25,000 and Under," Art+Auction, May, p. 125
2011 Baker, Kenneth, "Bay Area Arts Picks: Swanson’s Way," San Francisco Chronicle (Ovation section), March 17, p. F4
Zevitas, Steven, "Body, Landscape, Space: Top Ten Painting Shows in the U.S.," The Huffington Post, March 8
2009 Baker, Kenneth, "William Swanson: Marx & Zavattero," ARTnews, May, p. 117
2008 Swanhuyser, Hiya, "Not Spaced Out Enough," SF Weekly, November 26
Harmanci, Reyhan, "Zealous Zine," San Francisco Chronicle (96 Hours section), May 8, p. 18
2007 Melrod, George, "Artist Profile: William Swanson," art ltd., November, p. 78-79
Myers, Holly, "Making a Scene," Los Angeles Times, October 14, p. F6
2005 Baker, Kenneth, "Swanson at Marx," San Francisco Chronicle, May 28, p. E1, 10
Tunks, Jane, and Swanhuyser, Hiya, "all in electric lights," SF Weekly (Night & Day section), May 4
2004 Berry, Colin, "'2-1/2' at SFSU Fine Arts Gallery," Artweek, November, Vol. 35
Issue 9, p. 14
Baker, Kenneth, "William Swanson," ARTnews, February, p. 118
2003 Feinstein, Roni, "Report from Miami: Expanding Horizons," Art in America, No. 12, December, p. 57
Morris, Barbara, "William Swanson at Heather Marx Gallery," Artweek, December/January, Volume 34, Issue 10, p. 18-19
Georgopoulos, Alexis, "Bill Swanson," Anthem Magazine, Issue 011, p. 155
Bing, Alison, "Weird Science," sfgate.com Art ePick, November 6-12
Baker, Kenneth, "Swanson at Marx," San Francisco Chronicle, October 25,
p. D10
"In the abstract," San Francisco Chronicle Sunday Datebook, October 12, p. 29
Janku, Laura Richard, "William Swanson's Paintings" (announcement card essay)
Rufus, Anneli, "Reaching Out," (City Focus: San Francisco), ARTnews, Vol. 102 No. 6, June, p. 68
Ebony, David, "NYC Fairs Provoke and Promise," Art in America, No. 5,
May, p. 45
Zevitas, Steven T. (Editor), New American Paintings, Number 43 - January,
The Open Studios Press, Boston, MA; p. 138-41 and back cover
Bullis, Douglas, 100 Artists of the West Coast, Schiffer Publishing Ltd.,
Atglen, PA, p. 130-1
2002 Cash, Stephanie, "Report from San Francisco: Surviving and Thriving,"
Art in America, No. 11, November, p. 62, 67
Baker, Kenneth, " 'Bay Area 3' show peeks into artists' inner worlds,"
San Francisco Chronicle, October 30, p. D1, D5
Bing, Alison, "Bay Area Now 3," sfgate.com Art ePick, October 31-November 6
Westbrook, Lindsey, "Retrofuturist," S.F. Bay Guardian, Critic's Choice: Art,
April 17-23, p. 80
Bing, Alison, "Sublimely Subliminal," sfgate.com Art ePick, March 7-13
"8 days a week," (reproduction), S.F. Bay Guardian, February 27
Berry, Colin, " 'The Inaugural Exhibition' at Heather Marx Gallery," Artweek, February, Vol. 33 Issue 1, p. 25
2000 Helfand, Glen, "Signal Detection and Recognition by Human Observers," S.F. Bay Guardian, Critic's Choice, November 15-21
Borman, Greg, "Signal Detection and Recognition by Human Observers," sanfrancisoartmagazine.com
Frank, Peter, "SF Drawing Show," LA Weekly, Art Pick of the Week, June 14
Shows, Leslie, "Summerland," withitgirl magazine
1999 Cover Image for the organizers of this publication assume no responsibility for the contents herein., September
1998 Alexander, Meredith, "emerge at the SFAI," Artweek, September
Print print

Press Release



FEBRUARY 12 - MARCH 19, 2011

Opening reception for the artist: Saturday February 12, 5:00-7:00PM

For more information, contact Steve Zavattero
Phone: 415.627.9111/e-mail: info@marxzav.com
Website: www.marxzav.com

Marx & Zavattero are delighted to present Groundwork, Bay Area artist William Swanson's fifth solo exhibition at the gallery February 12 - March 19, 2011. Fabricated from exploding painterly passages, Swanson's new series of acrylic on panel paintings presents a thrilling departure from his previous work. Utilizing his signature arresting palette, play between light and beauty, structure and fissure, Swanson creates dynamic painted landscapes that are dense and luminous.

Pushing each work to the point of saturation, Swanson's lovely passages of poured diluted paint spawn new found terrains that mimic geological strata, waterways, and toxic spills against a backdrop of landscape and manmade imagery. This process yields ruinous, yet beautiful paintings that set the stage for either a pre- or post-apocalyptic scene, showing liminal space of incessant rebirth.

Chemical Bloom is an open, swirling composition of poured crystalline blue above a hillside of speckled, bursting pockets of greens and greys that resemble sunspots. The pictorial space is challenged by dense and conflicting rectilinear forms that both employ and eradicate perspective. Dark grey tree-like structures appear to be growing out of the amassed swoops of color, foreshadowing the reclamation that happens after desolation. Lower Spectrum depicts a dark fractured landscape that surrounds a bright and lively section of what looks like molten, acid colored earth.

Increasingly saturated with information, Swanson's new paintings compress layer upon layer of paint -- suggesting stratified geologic specimens -- contrasting with architectural forms that function like windows, circuitry, or video screens, providing depth and perspective that hints entirely of other worlds.

Swanson has earned a great critical praise over the last several years with reviews in Art in America, ArtNews, The Los Angeles Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, Anthem, Artweek, The LA Weekly, and art ltd. Swanson has had solo exhibitions at Walter Maciel Gallery, Culver City, and DCKT Contemporary, New York. Group exhibitions include Future Tense: Reshaping the Landscape, The Neuberger Museum of Art, Purchase, NY; I Want to Feel at Home Here, Milepost 5, Portland, OR; and Built Against Site, Paragraph, Kansas City, MO. His work was also featured in Bay Area Now 3 at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco. Swanson received his BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1992 and currently lives and works in Oakland, CA.


The situations presented in my paintings are diagrammatic renderings of engineered environments. I like to pose a fictional view of the ever-changing state of nature and its various forms of adaptation. Selected elements from the natural world persist within the architecture of limitation and categorization. Trees, plants and mushrooms flourish in crystalline formations in the face of bleak prospects. Walls block the growth of would be forests. I imagine the sub-structure of a landscape exposed and visible to reveal networks of hidden layers. Uncovered are the ruins of a constructed world contaminated by it's own byproducts. Visual examinations of runaway development, poor urban planning and stockpiles of waste provide footing for new structures. My work attempts to view a compression of the past and future in a graphic, exploded space.

Recent paintings focus on conglomerate forms or multiple elements inhabiting a centralized land mass. These isolated grounds are presented in states of disintegration and transformation. Deteriorating masses are suspended and submerged, awaiting reclamation.

I develop imagery from many photo-based sources that inform my study of the landscape. Vintage biology textbooks and books from the early ecology movement often provide material that translates well into an abstract language. I distill selections by hand drawing contours and adding them to a growing library of reference. The discovery found in the process of painting compliments this source gathering, allowing an intuitive approach to my craft.

  • For inquiries, please email Heather Marx Art Advisory at H[at]HMxAA[dot]com