With its blocky feel and bold use of color, the work of Hungarian-born artist Zsofia Schweger feels as informed by graphics as it is by fine art. As such, it comes as little surprise that the London-based image-maker takes a keen interest in graphic design—so much so that she interned for a time at Base Design in New York.
“I’m definitely interested in graphic design’s ability to communicate ideas and deliver messages effectively, and I appreciate the huge role it has in society,” says Schweger. “Graphic design is everywhere, we’re all influenced by it. My paintings are less functional than graphic design, but there are definitely similarities for me, especially when it comes to process, which is pretty methodical: I make preliminary versions of my paintings and edit both the composition and color scheme before going on to produce it.”
I’m particularly impressed with her Sandorfalva, Hungary series, depicting stark, unpeopled domestic interiors. They’re part of her wider exploration of “notions of home and belonging, local identity, and the emigrant experience,” says Schweger, whose family lived in Sandorfalva for 20 years before moving to London. “Our furniture and belongings are still there, kind of frozen in time, waiting for eventual moving or disposal.
“It’s all very familiar and foreign at the same time. It’s my home by definition, it’s a space that I know well, but it’s been so long since I lived there that I don’t actually feel at home. There are hundreds of thousands of Hungarians like me who left the country in the past few years for economic and political reasons. My story really isn’t that unique, and I think that’s why my paintings, when paired with the narrative of my project, can sometimes be seen as political.”
Using a mixture of grays and pastel tones, Schweger’s images are rendered in a way that manages to show her human hand, with gentle inaccuracies and wavering lines. “The colors in my paintings are mostly intuitive and made-up, although I do reference the colors of the actual objects I paint, and the general light conditions of the interiors. I always choose colors that work well together because I want my paintings to provide a sort of aesthetic pleasure. I want colors that are alluring enough to make you want to stay with my paintings a little bit longer, and look at them a little bit closer.”
Zsofia Schweger’s debut solo show BLOC is at London’s Griffin Gallery until 30 September.