I had a chat recently with Greg Swales at his “Letters to Cuba” Exhibit of Paintings and Photographs at the Baron Gallery in Vancouver. Greg is a Canadian Artist of Cuban/British background and he lives in Vancouver. He studied Photography at the Emily Carr Institute. In his last year before completing his BFA, he began to rediscover his passion for painting and upon graduating moved to Cuba to study painting at the Superior Institute of Art in Havana.
I had heard about his “Letters to Cuba” exhibit and visited on opening night, I then met up with him again a week later to talk art. His current series is composed of paintings, photographs and mixed media collage. The collage is used to create a visual memory composed of several moments and perspectives. His painting technique works with paint over heavy textures that mimic the political graffiti painted over the decaying buildings in Cuba.
How did you become a Photographer?
Always did visual, took photography in highschool as an elective.
Growing up did you always have an interest in Photography?
No, art was my first interest and by the time I was 16 or 17 years old I started in Photography.
What came first Painting or Photography?
Painting was first, I always had an interest in visual art that I began when I was 3 years old. When I was older I studied art in Cuba after Emily Carr.
If you weren’t a Photographer or Painter what would you be doing professionally?
I think I would be in Architecture or Anthropology.
What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?
Chaos and Chance.
What is the ONE lasting impression you want to leave in your photos or paintings?
I would like people to have there own personal experience. Image of people identify with the emotion, to be personal for people. My paintings are layered with photographic collage underneath and then painted over top.
How would you describe your style of painting?
Textured, graphic and cartoon influence expressive and impressionist with elements of realism.
Greg’s current exhibition “Letters to Cuba” can be seen at the Baron Gallery at 293 Columbia Street in the Gastown area in Vancouver thru to April 30, 2010.
By: Richard Wolak