At a Tribeca Gallery, Paintings to Quiet the Visual Noise of Urban Life

Zsofia Schweger and, at right, one of her paintings now on view at Sapar Contemporary, Library 2. Photo: courtesy of Zsofia Schweger

Nov. 12, 2017

Those seeking a visual cleanser would do well to stop by Sapar Contemporary on North Moore Street and take a look at the paintings of a young and highly disciplined artist named Zsofia Schweger.

Like other reductive painters, Schweger's works are offerings of lucidity, with shapes, subdued colors and composition painstakingly made simple. Unfettered by detail, we can focus on the essence of the subject before us. It invites us in, and we have the pleasure to bring to it what we like.

Schweger, 28, grew up in Hungary and came to the U.S. to attend college. An earlier project dealt with domestic scenes remembered from childhood. Although that territory has been much mined by artists whose lives have been uprooted and planted somewhere quite different (Schweger now lives in London), the artist has evidently honed her style to create the paintings now at Sapar.

The subject here is a library and it is based on a real one at the University College London that Schweger frequented as a student at the Slade School of Art. (There are also two lovely paintings of other interiors in the show— the artist's apartment and a hallway.)

“Libraries are taken for granted,” notes Nina Levent, co-owner of Sapar Contemporary. “It's very easy to stop valuing them and to overlook that they are standing on centuries of acquisition of knowledge.”

In today's political climate, with its increasingly dangerous tendency toward ignorance, the library reminds us, she says, "that to value knowledge is now particularly meaningful."

Schweger may or may not want to remind us of this frightening trend. On her canvases, we see bookcases lined with untitled volumes, along with those familiar wooden tables and chairs common to libraries. The dozen or so muted colors repeated on the bookshelves, so lovingly and exactingly painted, create a feeling of comfort. One can hear the silence in these rooms, feel the anticipation of opening the single volume sitting on a table, or maybe recall a moment when we, too, looked up from reading to glance out a window.

There are only eight paintings in this show, called "Cataloguing Time," but together they offer a delightful respite from the visual noise of urban life. If Schweger indeed aimed to soothe, so she has.

"Cataloguing Time" is on display until Jan. 5 at Sapar Contemporary, at 9 North Moore St. The gallery is open Tuesday through Saturday, 12-6 p.m.