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Exhibition: 27 February to 13 April, 2013

George Schwarz

George Schwarz

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Anyone who knows George Schwarz knows that there is no one quite like George Schwarz. And if you don’t know George Schwarz, then you can know him by knowing his art - it serves as a personal introduction.

Schwarz’ latest Stills exhibition introduces his audience to his home. Following a life journey that has covered both geographic ground, crossing Europe, Asia, The Americas and Australia on motorbike, and covering an expanse of experiences, such as making the infamous ‘art’ film Sex Aids and How to Use Them, this marks a poetic homecoming. Now aged 77, more legend than local, and philosophical about the brevity of life, Schwarz returns us to his inner sanctum, his youthful past, and his undying romantic musings for his other half Charis.

But Schwarz’ oeuvre goes beyond the genre of autobiography. Not only by touching on the universal by speaking to the unavoidables of human experience - sex and death and our shared yet private nightly confusions of the unconscious - but because his work is not simply self-descriptive. The surreal layers of meaning, the jumbled collections of objects, the unexpected amalgamations of Spanish, biker, Gothic and Shaman influences, to name but a few, aren’t just his art, they’re his reality. The line between the real and symbolic, life and art, has rarely blurred more, and there is no world outside the dream-like world of Schwarz; “I am a dreamer,” he explains, “and I don’t want to wake up”.

But why, in an age when online profiles and personal branding are ubiquitous, when images of private moments proliferate, and when there is a popular acceptance that identity is a string of self-performances, is this particular world over any other, one that remains so intriguing and immersive? Perhaps because, beyond the specificities and unlikeliness of finding a Spanish peasant existence in the heart of urban Sydney, where images within images on top of images start to make sense by their own Schwarzian logic, and in which butterflies meet turtles on shattered plates as par for the course, this work asks us to reflect on how we construct our own unreal realities.

George Schwarz’ previous exhibitions at Stills Gallery are Carpe Diem 2010, Vita Brevis Est, 2008, Highlights of the Road, 2004, Recuerdos, 2002, Relics, 1994 and Items, 1992. Schwarz began exhibiting in 1957 in Switzerland, his country of origin.