Ena Swansea

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Ena Swansea (born 1966)[1] is an artist based in New York City.[2]

Swansea was born in Charlotte, North Carolina and attended film school at the University of South Florida in Tampa.


14th St pile field, 2010, 84 x 60 in, 213.4 x 152.4 cm

Swansea currently lives and works in New York.[3] She is represented by Friedman Benda Gallery in New York, Lock Gallery in Philadelphia, Hans Meyer in Düsseldorf, 313 in Seoul, and Arndt Berlin. She works primarily in oil paint on a graphite foundation, often painting brightly colored figures on a dark iridescent background. Swansea draws heavily from her southern roots, including the story of her ancestor Southern Baptist preacher Thomas Dixon. "No one as yet has really pointed out that my paintings, whether they are of New York City or something else, carry a piece of the most disturbed part of United States history in them, as is my genetic burden, one might say."[4]

Most recently, Swansea has exhibited work in How six men got on in the world at Fresh Eggs Gallery in Berlin, and Ena Swansea: untitled nightlife at Friedman Benda. Swansea’s recent exhibition, Psycho, at the Deichtorhallen / Sammlung Falckenberg, was a selection of over 40 of Swansea’s paintings from 2002–2012, chosen from various European collections. The exhibition was hung concurrently with paintings by Finnish artist Robert Lucander.[5] Critic Belinda Grace Gardner says of Swansea's work, "Her compositions have the evasiveness of dreams or afterimages that briefly manifest themselves on the edges of perception."[6]

In 2009, the Musée d'Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean (MUDAM), Luxembourg held a survey of 5 years of Swansea’s paintings (October 11, 2008 – February 2, 2009). Arndt & Partner Gallery Zurich showed "recent paintings,” October 23 – November 22, 2008.

Swansea's work has been in group exhibitions such as Greater New York, MoMAPS1, New York, Goetz meets Falckenberg, Sammlung Falckenberg, Hamburg (both 2005), The Triumph of Painting part 3, Saatchi Gallery[7] in London (2006), “Central Station” at La Maison Rouge in Paris, Back to the Figure - Contemporary Painting, Museum Franz Gertsch, Burgdorf (2006), Symbolism, Von der Heyt Museum, Wuppertal (catalog ) True Romance - Allegories of Love from the Renaissance to the Present, Kunsthalle Wien (2007/2008) as well as in “Story-Tellers” at Kunsthalle Hamburg.

Her work is included in several collections, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, Sammlung Falckenberg Hamburg and the Olbricht Collection, Berlin.

Critical writing on Swansea’s work has been published internationally, including Art in America, monopol, Parkett, The Art Newspaper, The Brooklyn Rail, Flash Art, Fantom, The New York Sun, ArtNet, ARTinvestor, and art, das kunstmagazin.

Recent Exhibitions[edit]

  • how six men got on in the world, Fresh Eggs Gallery, Berlin, May 1–17, 2014
  • untitled nightlife and sofa, Friedman Benda Gallery, New York, January 21 - February 15, 2014
  • come like shadows, group show curated by David Cohen, Zürcher Gallery, New York, December 18, 2013 - February 25, 2014
  • new paintings, Locks Gallery, Philadelphia, October 18 - November 23, 2013
  • and those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music, Freidman Benda Gallery, New York, July 16 - August 17, 2013
  • new paintings, 313 Gallery, Seoul, December 16 – January 25, 2013
  • Psycho, 41 paintings from 2002 - 2011 in European collections, Deichtorhallen/Sammlung Falckenberg, Hamburg, December 18, 2011 - March 25, 2012
  • studio show, organized by ARNDT Berlin, New York, February 26 - March 7, 2011
  • Printer's Proof, Bertrand Delacroix Gallery, New York, January 18 - February 14, 2011
  • Changing the World, ARNDT, Berlin, April 29 - May 30, 2011
  • Armory Show, New York, solo booth, ARNDT Berlin, March 3 – 7, 2010
  • Water is Best, Locks Gallery, Philadelphia, October 21 – November 28, 2009
  • Naked!, Paul Kasmin Gallery, curated by Adrian Dannatt and Paul Kasmin, New York, July 9 – September 19, 2009
  • the beginning, 313 Gallery, Seoul, Korea, June 6–28, 2009

Public Projects[edit]

In 2010, Swansea was selected as the first American artist to produce a “Goyesque” occupying the entire sand floor of the ancient Roman bullfighting arena in Arles. The ephemeral painting, 150 x 300 feet, existed for about an hour, erased by the feet of bulls and matadors.[8]


She is married to Antoine Guerrero, Executive and Artistic Director of Whitebox Art Center, and former Director of Operations and Exhibitions at MoMAPS1.[9] Swansea is the widow of film critic Joel Siegel with whom she has a son.[10]


  1. ^ MoMA website
  2. ^ Yazigi, Monique P. (4 August 1996). "Night of the Bold-Faced Names". New York Times. Retrieved 20 July 2010. 
  3. ^ http://www.arndtberlin.com/website/artist_1292_image
  4. ^ Falckenberg, Harald, Belinda Grace Gardner, Dirk Luckow, Miriam Schoofs and Ena Swansea. Psycho: Ena Swansea, Robert Lucander, Deichtorhallen Hamburg, Snoeck Verlagsgesellschaft, Cologne (exhibition cat., pub. December 2011), p.7
  5. ^ http://deichtorhallen.de/index.php?id=221&L=1
  6. ^ Falckenberg, Harald, Belinda Grace Gardner, Dirk Luckow, Miriam Schoofs and Ena Swansea. Psycho: Ena Swansea, Robert Lucander, Deichtorhallen Hamburg, Snoeck Verlagsgesellschaft, Cologne (exhibition cat., pub. December 2011), p.29
  7. ^ "Elton John Again Altar-ing Wedding Plans?". New York Daily News. 5 November 2004. Retrieved 20 July 2010. [permanent dead link]
  8. ^ http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2010/09/30/ena-swansea-paints-arles-bullfight.html
  9. ^ http://art-agenda.com/shows/antoine-%E2%80%9Ctony%E2%80%9D-guerrero-appointed-executive-director-of-white-box/
  10. ^ "Respected film critic Siegel dies". BBC News. 2 July 2007. Retrieved 20 July 2010. 

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