Flowers (green drooper) 40” x 30”, oil on canvas, 2022

Cut flowers in vases are a codification and confiscation of nature and aesthetically masterful. The vase alone denotes a significant stratification of education and class. On the other hand, there’s the genre of botanical art, which hung near the lowest rung of 20th century subjects until Pop art. Then it turned comfortably frivolous and escapist. That would be a hard critique today in a culture that tolerates spectacle and indulges in chill possessions and personhood.

Flowers for Anton, 40” x 30”, oil on canvas, 2018

Floral painting now has to reflect almost the opposite of decadence and, rather than checking off on the exploitation of nature, considers cultural loss. Floral arrangements defy a narrative that include an expiration date  –  a subtext that provides a serious work’s covenant with mortality. Nature and culture are burdened by a large degree of such speculation, i.e., when is life over? What’s the cost? What comes next? The fragileness of aesthetic conventions is absorbed and enclosed in Rosalyn Schwartz’s rarified, electrifying Vanitas tones on this subject.

Untitled #29, pastel on paper, 12 X 9 ” 2022


Untitled #8, mixed media, 10 X 10 3/4 in, 2011


Schwartz’s oils and pastels on velour launch dreams of transience and seclusion. Space and objects in her drawings convey starts and finishes, and for the most part they’re interchangeable. Narrative centers are scrubbed clean of tell-tale clues, so the artist can concentrate on intervals and periphery for multiple paths of looking. Meaning doesn’t hover between form and content but suspended loosely over time and individual works.

The artist doesn’t assume that narrative is the de facto pillar of 2-dimensional art, despite clearly recognizable forms. The more vividly they represent, the more unlikely they are to translate. Schwartz is up to something quite the opposite of telling stories. In fact, she wrings content out of signs and makes pictures that display remnants of pre-conscious fixations, a desire to make ingenuous voice present and desirable while growing her own vegetal-alphabet.  Her symbols are hollow, so she can concentrate on artifactual impulses drained of semiosis jammed with forms undermining compositions  –  full passages of dark matter that parody description but obscure everything but context. Curiously comforting and strident, she abstains from finale and concentrates on transparent shadows and turbulent line.

Untitled #18, pastel on velour, 19 1/2 x 13 1/2 inches, 2023

Some drawings flow, crash and burn, but spring right back. They can be excruciatingly stylish and unexpectedly beautiful, sorting sensibility and guile from “Ab Ex” easel paintings to La Belle Époque Krazy Kat mannered relief prints. She draws and paints only those things that can be drawn and painted  –  finely tuned and edited renderings rather than referents.

Some pictures imagine space in such a vortex they shrink and release, leaving surfaces breathless. Coolness becomes dry and chaotic, then wet and downy. Compositions drift on the page, with no respite between surface fibers and granulated color. Figures and forms cling in impossible embraces. Objects rotate in a furious rock opera at the border of Surrealism where honeyed oil drips over sticks and stones.


Red Still Life with Nude, 5″ x 8″, mixed media, 2008

Beneath simulated blooms lie shades of tension –  petals and tendrils of torment and collective discord. Any casual notion of flowers in vessels is undercut by a contest between seized-upon grace and tranquil madness. Anxiety, binding generations of abstract artists, absorbs the alternating fulfillment and anguish of being/making. Existential debriefing and graphic anti-cabaret provide a semi-permeable defense against everything dreadful growing outside the studio.