Artist Charlotte Swiden’s Solo Sydney Exhibition Is A Love Letter To Connection

Charlotte Swiden is a Swedish artist who’s been living in Australia since 2005. Now based in the Mornington Peninsula, on Boonwurrong Country, she creates beautiful abstract paintings that are filled with ambiguity and emotion.

After reflecting on the question of ‘what is home’ over the last few years, she was inspired to create her latest body of work that she describes as ‘a love letter to the people who shape us’ – no matter where they are in the world.

‘Affect’ is also her first solo exhibition in Sydney, and it’s on show at Saint Cloche now!

Christina Karras

Artist Charlotte Swiden. Photo – Clem Stamation

She’s based on the Mornington Peninsula, on Boonwurrong Country. Photo – Clem Stamation

Her work is driven by memory and feeling. Photo – Clem Stamation

‘There are 16 pieces in the show,’ she says. Photo – Clem Stamation

Photo – Clem Stamation

‘Affect’ is on now at Sydney gallery Saint Cloche until March 12. Photo – Jacqui Turk

‘I’ve been working on the actual paintings for a year, but many of the ideas and sketches have been hiding in my drawers and my head for years,’ Charlotte explains. Photo – Jacqui Turk

A beautiful mix of earthy tones and muted greys add to the painting’s emotive aesthetic. Photo – Jacqui Turk

‘Beyond Mere Things’ by Charlotte Swiden. Acrylic, oil pastel and impasto onto canvas.

‘The Bell Tower’ by Charlotte Swiden. Acrylic, oil pastel and impasto onto canvas.

‘Vessels To Fill’ by Charlotte Swiden. Acrylic, oil pastel and impasto onto canvas.

From left: ‘A Heart That Disobeys Reason’, ‘Your Beautiful Soul Shines Through’, ‘Thin Skin’ by Charlotte Swiden. Acrylic, oil pastel and impasto onto canvas.

Christina Karras
3rd of March 2023

Over the last few years, Charlotte Swiden has found herself wondering ‘what is home?’

‘Even though our cultural and physical spaces constantly keep changing, some people will always be ‘home’ to us,’ she says. This is the inspiration behind the Swedish-born, Melbourne-based artist’s new exhibition, ‘Affect’.

Since moving from her home country to Australia in her mid-20s, she’s become intimately familiar with how relationships can transcend time and borders, and wanted to ‘capture the essence of that’ in her paintings.

‘Physical distance doesn’t mean that we don’t have our people with us. Sometimes we bond stronger,’ she adds. ‘Over time I have started to feel more assimilated [to Australia] and also more separated. I think much of my work has been a reflection on that interplay and conflict of identity.’

This philosophical narrative is woven throughout her latest collection. It features 16 abstract pieces – filled with ideas she’s had in mind for years – finally translated onto the canvas with her textured, cubism-like painting style using a mix of acrylic paint, different impastos, and oil pastels. 

‘I’m always collecting thoughts, colours, shapes, words, and I constantly sketch and collage,’ Charlotte says of her process.

Much like a collage, her own paintings are made up of fragmented, geometric shapes and ambiguous figures, layered over a muted colour palette of earthy greys, blues and brown tones.

‘While painting I reminisce about a friendship or an event,’ she adds. ‘Sometimes a painting is more about a certain feeling, while the people I have in mind will often change. It has been so joyful and ‘loveful’ to create this body of work.’

And even though she has embedded her own stories into the work, Charlotte hopes the viewers will find their own connections in the rich worlds she’s created on her canvases.

See ‘Affect’ on now at Saint Cloche until March 12. 
View the full catalogue of piece available for purchase online here.

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