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FRANK SCHWAIGER MYTHOLOGIES


FRANK SCHWAIGER: MYTHOLOGIES July 20 - August 25, 2007 Bruno David Gallery 3721 Washington Boulevard Saint Louis, 63108 Missouri, U.S.A. info@brunodavidgallery.com www.brunodavidgallery.com Director: Bruno L. David This catalogue was published in conjunction with the exhibition Frank Schwaiger: Mythologies. Editor: Bruno L. David Catalog Designer: Yoko Kiyoi Design Assistants: Sage A. David and Claudia R. David Printed in USA All works courtesy of Bruno David Gallery and Frank Schwaiger. Cover Image: Frank Schwaiger. Guardian, 2007, 116 x 71 x 48 inches (294.64 x 180.34 x 121.92 cm), Steel with powdered paint pigment. The sculptures were created in 2007 and are available in several sizes and colors. Each is an edition of 3. Copyright Š 2007 Bruno David Gallery, Inc. All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written permission of Bruno David Gallery, Inc.


Contents

Essay by Dina Ioffe Afterword by Bruno L. David Checklist of the Exhibition

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Essay by Dina Ioffe 2


my•thol•o•gy (n) \mi-`thä-lə-jē\ plural my•thol•o•gies Etymology: French or Late Latin; French mythologie, from Late Latin mythologia interpretation of myths, from Greek, legend, myth, from mythologein to relate myths, from mythos + logos speech Date: 1603 1: an allegorical narrative 2: a body of myths: as a: the myths dealing with the gods, demigods, and legendary heroes of a particular people b: mythos 3: a branch of knowledge that deals with myth 4: a popular belief or assumption that has grown up around someone or something (source: Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

Roland Barthes’ collection of essays, Mythologies, published in 1957, asks the question “What is a myth, today?” and examines the tendency of contemporary societies and cultures to create myths. Adopting the same title for his exhibit, Frank Schwaiger explores similar themes of semiology and the function of myths within society in his series of painted steel pieces. According to Barthes, myth creation occurs when the sign itself (born when a word, meaning, and sound come together) is used as the signifier, or representation, in order to add new meaning to an object, which is signified. This new meaning, Barthes argues, is hardly arbitrary; rather, it is carefully molded to perpetuate an idea of society that adheres to existing ideologies of the ruling class and its media. Claude Lévi-Strauss’ observation that myths—while seemingly fantastic and unpredictable—are surprisingly similar across cultures, supports Barthes’ assertion that they serve a specific social function. Lévi-Strauss explains that universal laws govern myth making, and as a result, produce similar myths within different cultures; specifically, “mythical thought always progresses from the awareness of oppositions toward their resolution.” Therefore, myths consists of elements that contradict each other, and other elements that resolve those oppositions. As Schwaiger creates his own myth in “Mythologies,” the influence and engagement of Barthes’ and Lévi-Strauss’ ideas on his work is abundantly clear. Schwaiger employs Barthes’ semiotics by imparting specific meanings to otherwise ambiguous shapes and unidentifiable figures through his titles, as seen in Karma. Here, the black arching candle-like shapes acquire new significance when attached to the title, which draws attention to its balanced forms through notions of karmic justice. Moreover, Schwaiger’s works inform the titles through their pairing with specific objects; in this case, the multi-directional form of Schwaiger’s sculpture draws out notions of karma as being similarly unbound to a particular outcome.

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Schwaiger further develops his myth through obvious oppositions within the pieces, as well as throughout the entire exhibition. The sharp black metal forms give a dangerous sense of foreboding and are often overtly sexualized, while many of the subjects are quite innocuous and innocent, such as Dove, Iris Garden, and Willow. Schwaiger sets up a larger opposition within the collection that is related to power and authority. With titles that denote kings, queens, warriors, guardians, sorceresses, warlocks, dragons, and nature, Schwaiger’s pieces confront the viewer with the question of which sources of authority, if any, are legitimate: human, biblical, mystical, heavenly, and/or natural. Furthermore, the juxtaposition of physically real, sometimes aggressive, forms with more abstract titles (related to power and mythology) forces viewers to consider the reality and potential existence of myths, including the very myth Schwaiger constructs within the exhibition. In his blend of myths, ranging from biblical to secular, eastern to western, human to spiritual and metaphysical, and ancient to modern, Schwaiger’s meta-analysis of myths transforms into a new collective, universal myth that holds the potential to reveal or perpetuate the ideologies of human culture and roles of power and authority within all societies. The bold pieces implicate the viewer in the resolution of the exhibit’s inherent oppositions and in the ultimate interpretation of Schwaiger’s myth, which raises questions about what we accept as truth, as well as power and authority that are validated and predicated on myths. Thus, Schwaiger not only creates his own myth that uncovers how other myths have functioned within human nature, but also challenges viewers to resist the tendency of allowing socially constructed notions and narratives to become “naturalized”—as Barthes wrote—and to be taken unquestioningly as truth. Dina Ioffe is a writer, and currently studying Art History. This essay is one in a series of the gallery’s exhibitions written by fellow gallery artists and friends.

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Afterwords by Bruno L. David

I am pleased to announce the exhibit MYTHOLOGIES by sculptor Frank Schwaiger. Frank Schwaiger latest works are not quite sculpture; these forms are more in touch with the presence between what is real and what is not. These myths are left for the viewer to interpret and understand. The things we might have forgotten, the things we never knew or noticed—the shadow that follows us, the light that warms us, the basic aspects of existence. The dual-nature of the exhibition appears in the microcosms of individual works as well; while the sharp steel sends a threatening signal, new aspects of each sculpture are waiting to be discovered as projections, which disappear from a head-on perspective, emerge as the viewer truly engages with the art. Frank Schwaiger has exhibited his work widely. He is a graduate of the Washington University in St. Louis, School of Architecture, and received his Master from Southern Illinois University.

― Bruno L. David, Director.

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Checklist of the Exhibition and Images

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Galapagos , 2007 Steel and powdered paint pigment 16-3/4 x 13-1/2 x 13-1/2 inches

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Warrior, 2008

Steel and powdered paint pigment 36 x 15 x 13-1/2 inches

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Wanderer, 2007

Steel and powdered paint pigment 48 x 20-1/4 x 24 inches

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Spring, 2007

Steel and powdered paint pigment 15-1/2 x 9 x 8 inches

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Cloud Catcher I, 2007

Steel and powdered paint pigment 15 x 10 x 6-1/2 inches

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Three Graces I, 2007

Steel and powdered paint pigment 10-3/4 x 8-1/2 x 7-1/2 inches

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Three Graces II, 2007

Steel and powdered paint pigment 10-3/4 x 8-1/2 x 7-1/2 inches

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Poet #2, 2007

Steel and powdered paint pigment 17-1/2 x 10-1/2 x 10 inches

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Joshua Tree, 2007

Steel and powdered paint pigment 18-1/4 x 11 x 10-3/4 inches

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Iris Garden, 2007

Steel and powdered paint pigment 7-1/2 x 14 x 5 inches

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Willow, 2007

Steel and powdered paint pigment 23 x 9-1/2 x 8-1/2 inches

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Dragon, 2007

Steel and powdered paint pigment 13-1/2 x 21-1/2 x 10 inches

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Dove, 2007

Steel and powdered paint pigment 13 x 12 x 10-1/2 inches

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Guardian, 2007

Steel and powdered paint pigment 24 x 15-1/2 x 5-3/4 inches

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Omphalos, 2007

Steel and powdered paint pigment 27 x 9 x 9-1/2 inches

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Cloud Catcher II, 2007

Steel and powdered paint pigment 15-1/2 x 15 x 9-1/2 inches

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Queen of Love, 2007

Steel and powdered paint pigment 80-1/2 x 27-1/2 x 21-1/2 inches

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Ondine, 2007

Steel and powdered paint pigment 80-1/2 x 29 x 14 inches

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Sorceress, 2007

Steel and powdered paint pigment 84 x 19-3/4 x 17 inches

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Warlock, 2007

Steel and powdered paint pigment 85 x 30 x 9 inches

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King, 2007

Steel and powdered paint pigment 87 x 22 x 13-3/4 inches

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He Who Knows, 2007

Steel and powdered paint pigment 84 x 11-1/4 x 11-1/2 inches

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Shaman’s Purse I, 2007

Steel and powdered paint pigment 18 x 4 x 2 inches

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Shaman’s Purse II, 2007

Steel and powdered paint pigment 19-1/2 x 5 x 2-1/4 inches

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Shaman’s Purse IV, 2007

Steel and powdered paint pigment 16 x 10 x 1-3/4 inches

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Crux, 2007

Steel and powdered paint pigment 14 x 5 x 4-1/2 inches

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Guardian, 2007

Steel and powdered paint pigment 116 x 71 x 48 inches

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Frank Schwaiger: Mythologies at Bruno David Gallery, 2007 (Installation View - detail)

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Frank Schwaiger: Mythologies at Bruno David Gallery, 2007 (Installation View - detail)

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Frank Schwaiger: Mythologies at Bruno David Gallery, 2007 (Installation View - detail)

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Frank Schwaiger: Mythologies at Bruno David Gallery, 2007 (Installation View - Shaman’s Purse series)

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Frank Schwaiger: Mythologies at Bruno David Gallery, 2007 (Installation View - detail)

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Frank Schwaiger: Mythologies at Bruno David Gallery, 2007 (Installation View - detail)

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ARTISTS Margaret Adams Ingo Baumgarten Dickson Beall Laura Beard Elaine Blatt Nanette Boileau Martin Brief Lisa K. Blatt Shawn Burkard Bunny Burson Carmon Colangelo Alex Couwenberg Jill Downen Yvette Drury Dubinsky Eleanor Dubinsky Maya Escobar Corey Escoto

Beverly Fishman Damon Freed William Griffin Joan Hall Takashi Horisaki Kim Humphries Kelley Johnson Howard Jones (Estate) Chris Kahler Bill Kohn (Estate) Katharine Kuharic Leslie Laskey Sandra Marchewa Peter Marcus Kathryn Neale Moses Nornberg

Patricia Olynyk Robert Pettus Daniel Raedeke Chris Rubin de la Borbolla Cherie Sampson Frank Schwaiger Charles Schwall Christina Shmigel Thomas Sleet Buzz Spector Lindsey Stouffer The Fancy Christ Cindy Tower Ian Weaver Brett Williams Ken Worley

brunodavidgallery.com


Frank Schwaiger: Mythologies  

76 page fully illustrated color catalogue of Frank Schwaiger's exhibition at Bruno David Gallery. Essay by Dina Ioffe. (Softcover, July 2007...

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