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Review: Elise Schweitzer at Gallery 924 

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click to enlarge Elise Schweitzer, "Garden Party"
  • Elise Schweitzer, "Garden Party"

Elise Schweitzer’s large, three-panel painting “Garden Party,” which shows two centaurs interrupting young women enjoying a wedding reception, was inspired by the anxiety she faced while planning for her wedding. As Schweitzer worked on the oil on linen work, originally intended to depict a group of friends, it slowly morphed into a battle scene. You see the centaurs overtaking the women as they try to escape, their earthy tans and browns a marvelous contrast to the women’s pink dresses and deep blue sky.

Schweitzer's work is firmly grounded in the Renaissance-born tradition of large-scale figurative painting that often drew inspiration from Greek myth for subject matter (she drew upon the myth of the Battle of the Centaurs and Lapiths, for instance, for "Garden Party"). But she also addresses more contemporary, and inward-looking, subjects in her work.

A number of paintings in this show feature skydivers and parachutes, including “Skydiver,” which shows its subject tangled in his parachute after an accident, on the ground in a suburban setting and surrounded by concerned onlookers. That work seems to echo devotional representations of the crucified Jesus, but some of other parachute-themed paintings on display are more open to interpretation.

Or perhaps not. “Parachute Entombment” pictures a beautiful young woman, naked and presumably dead, in a sitting pose on a red parachute. You may wonder if she’s depicted here on the cusp of resurrection. Centaurs and Belly Dancers: New Work by Elise Schweitzer runs through Nov. 30 at Gallery 924

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