Interiew: Tessa de Swart
Luca Curci talks with Tessa de Swart during THE BODY LANGUAGE 2022, at THE ROOM Contemporary Art Space.
If you want true passion, you need to be with Tessa de Swart (1984). She has no limits on expression. By shamelessly showing her own emotions she appeals to our own shame. Whoever looks at her work cannot suppress some embarrassment. Everything screams fragility and helplessness. The need for salvation is great, but it is not fulfilled: “Hold me, free me, take me, drink me, trust me” can be read in her work. All the floodgates are open. Tessa de Swart scratches her cries on paper, chalks her longing on bridges and streets, writes away like a madwoman. She exaggerates, overwrites herself, eliminates herself, and imposes herself. Temptation, the heart, the sea, the body, the pain, the hope, it all passes by. But you sense that it is a hopeless story, and that is what makes this work so poignant. Fortunately, her despair is a touching honesty. And of a naivety that sometimes surmises some irony. Although she makes visual art, the text seems to be the main conductor of her emotions. It is easy to unhook from this form of unbridled honesty, but let’s not forget that she reveals a passion that is present in many, if not all of us, and that we generally manage to cover with a fine layer of the outer cover. The work of Tessa de Swart is thereby also a recognizable ode to the human defect.
Luca Curci – What are you currently working on?
Tessa de Swart – Right now, back in the Netherlands, I work on finishing The Wild Fields; a series of photos and poems which I made last winter in Switzerland. Nature plays an important role in the theme of my work. I use the fragility and the power of nature as metaphors for the emotional human spirit.
LC – What’s your background? What is the experience that has influenced your work the most?
TDS – I grew up in the polder in the Netherlands. In nature with lots of freedom and space to literally look far across the fields. I have always felt a strong connection with the trees, the streams, the grass with the flowers in it, and the open sky. Later, I moved to Leiden, a city close to the sea. There I made deep contact with the dune landscape and the waves, the constantly changing light. Love, the unanswered desire, has – until now at least – had the most influence on my work. In addition, it is the power of nature, and the solace it brings, that strongly inspires me.
LC – How do you choose your subjects? Is it a reasoned or an instinctive process?
TDS – My subjects originate from experiences in my personal life, deeply lived feelings such as heartbreak, longing, and grief. These are personal but at the same time universal subjects. I translate this inner world through images, colours, and poetry. This is for sure an instinctive process. When the creative process flows I am just the medium that uses the brush.
LC – Do you use art to express something in particular? How do you feel when you see your work completed?
TDS – Art is a very strong medium for me to express myself. Expressing myself through words, images and colours is a very strong inner need. If I cannot express myself through art I become ill and life feels meaningless. A professor of Dutch and academic communication once called me” an obsessive writer of texts that others would rather keep to themselves”. I feel fulfilled, a feeling that all the pieces of the puzzle of life are falling into place.
LC – We were attracted by your last artistic production, has the artwork presented been created for the exhibition or as a part of preexisting works?
TDS – This work I just made. I stayed for a 3 months winter residency in the abandoned Verzasca Valley of Switzerland. I lived there in an old stone house surrounded by strong mountain energy and the endless sound of the flowing river. I made self-portraits and landscape photography which I mixed with layers of drawings. It was the first time that the work was shown. I felt happy to get so quick the fruits of my labour.
LC – Do you agree with our vision of art and what do you think about the theme of the exhibition?
TDS – I do agree, of course. I use my own body in my work and I use language. So obviously the theme of the exhibition attracted me immediately!
LC – Would you suggest a collaboration with us? What do you think about our services?
TDS – Yes I would suggest it. The service is very good. Clear, helpful and a kind way of communication. Thanks therefor.
LC – Did you enjoy cooperating with us? What do you think about ITSLIQUID Platform?
TDS – Yes I did. I appreciate it much the way you give attention to the art and the artist and the way you communicate. I like the platform. It brings together artists from all over the world and gives interesting opportunities to build an international network. New ways to let art flow into the world. It shows high-quality art and that inspires me. I find the way of communicating clear and sparkling.