'Industrialist on Wheels', Geraldine Swayne

Painting of a distorted face

2009, Oil on linen, 128.5 x 106 cm

Artist's statement

'Industrialist on Wheels' is from a recent series of paintings triggered by photographs of obscure Victorian industrialists. When I look at early photographic portraits I can be captivated by a particular mood or light and will then spend hours fantasising about the back-story or personalities of the sitters. As Scorsese says, "The most interesting and exciting thing in the whole world is the human face."

My industrialist has been rendered somewhat helpless by being mounted on wheels, on which he can only trundle towards an impotent and infantilised destiny. Like many of today's bad capitalists I felt he should be ridiculed for his vanity. I wanted the paintings in the series to appear to emerge like images from chemical baths; or to seem to have occurred organically like mould on confectionary, rather than to look like they had been painted. This is in a way similar to the alchemic process of
silver-gelatine or albumen printmaking.

The effortless look never happened easily and I often felt like a chemist when I worked on the series. There were many exasperated failures. The survivors however, including 'Industrialist on Wheels', hopefully have an autonomous and out-of-time atmosphere and a mysterious internal narrative.


Born in 1965, Geraldine Swayne studied at Newcastle University 1985-89. She worked as a special effects designer 1991-2005. London group exhibitions include 'Fresh Air Machine' Calvert22
Gallery 2008 (co-curator), 'Free Art Fair' Barbican Gallery 2009 and 'East End Promise' Red Gallery 2010. Live painting and drawing shows with German group Faust include Wrexner Centre Ohio USA 2009 and Detroit Museum of Contemporary Art USA 2009. Solo projects include 'East End' (IMAX film) London Film Festival 1999, 'Cracks in Time' L-13 London 2007, 'Squeeze-Box' NO:ID
Gallery London 2009. A collaboration with poet/singer Lydia Lunch is forthcoming at L-13 in September 2010.


Artist profile on Re-title website