Walter Swennen
Das Phantom der Malerei / The Phantom of Painting

Published by Hannibal books, 2021
Contributions by Daniel Koep, Konrad Bitterli and Stephan Berg

Publication accompanying the great retrospective of the artist Walter Swennen

Walter Swennen is a painter, born in Brussels in 1946. Like others of his generation, he approaches and explores the medium in new ways by applying principles from other disciplines.

Swennen’s work constantly challenges the viewer. His paintings demand slow and careful inspection. The layers of paint often hide a veritable battlefield of attempts, corrections, words and messages. His Dutch-speaking family suddenly began speaking French when he was five years old, and language games accordingly form an integral part of his art. A painting by Walter Swennen is not just a result, but also a process, which allows us to trace the path taken by the artist to achieve the ultimate ‘visible’ image. A key constant is the pleasure he derives from the battle with the paint. Non-conformist that he is, Swennen paints on anything: from canvas to wood to discarded camping tables, stoves and even washing machines.

Walter Swennen’s long and varied career deserves to be recognised by a wide public for its radical nonconformism and the influence that the artist still exerts on young artists today. Swennen is represented by the Brussels Xavier Hufkens Gallery and the Gladstone Gallery in New York, and won the prestigious Ultima award for lifetime services to the visual arts in 2019. His work can be found in numerous museum and gallery collections.

This book offers a wonderful overview of his oeuvre and is the catalogue to an international solo exhibition which launches in Kunstmuseum Bonn (3 June – 29 August 2021) before travelling to Kunstmuseum Den Haag (2 October 2021 – 9 January 2022) and Kunstmuseum Winterthur (29 January – 24 April 2022).

With textual contributions from Daniel Koep, Konrad Bitterli and Stephan Berg.

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