Reece Swanepoels’s art is underlined by his ideal vision for humanity: Universal empathy and interpersonal living. He, like many believes that empathy is the basis of human emotion, human emotion, in turn being the basis of our humanity. Swanepoel believes that experiencing an expressing empathy for others is what’s needed, now more than ever.
“Ludwig Kirchner said in a letter where he explained his political stance that he hates the industrial revolution because he fears that one day people will become so individual, independent and self-sufficient that their automatic response to other human beings will be apathy. Look around and you will see that that is the case. The negative emotions that you observe in the majority of my works are not a direct reflection or projection of my emotional state (although you cannot divorce an artist from his/her work entirely) it is a means to an end”.
“Humans have a tendency to be drawn in by negativity. It's just our nature”. This fascination is reflected in Swanepoel's work, with subjects that confront the viewer, conveying emotions such as angst, anguish and torment. The artist urges active viewer participation, where his artworks act as mediator, presenting the opportunity for the viewer to experience some degree of empathy and thereby open a dialogue. Swanepoel hopes that this experience in turn acts as a catalyst, opening a door for universal empathy, and a utopia of interpersonal living. This ideology driving his work, is fuelled by his interest in Metamodernism, a contemporary philosophical movement conceptualised in the Netherlands by philosopher Robin van der Akker, which encourages an empathy revolution. This theoretical approach can also be observed in works by artists such as Schalk van der Merwe, Guy Denning, Antony Micallef, Kwangho Shin, Mo Saliho, and Linda Helen Syvertsen.
“My art is objectively not pretty, it is unpretty”. Whilst there is validity in the purely aesthetic experience of art, Swanepoel hopes to encourage a dialogue and deeper investigation of the subjects and ideas that he presents and ultimately inspire empathy.
Contemporary South-African artist Phillip-Reece Swanepoel, was born in Cape Town in May of 1996, but relocated to Mossel Bay shortly hereafter where he matriculated from Point High School and matriculated in 2014 with a distinction in visual art and the ambition to study towards a degree in fine art. Gripped by youth’s opportunity and impulsiveness, Swanepoel moved to Chengdu, Sichuan, China at the age of 19 where he worked as an English tutor. “Here I met amazing people, experienced Chinese modern and traditional art and experimented with unorthodox meals. Eventually I came back with a better perspective on the great, big world through a different lens and an objective view of South Africa.” Swanepoel contributed his new interest in education to these experiences, which lead to his enrollment towards a degree in education at the North West University, where he is majoring in art education whilst building on a prolific body of work. Swanepoel's art comments on contemporary context, presents an unbiased address of the situation and questions the reality of individualism and the day and age.
Exhibitions 2013- Duo exhibition with André Espach (Mossel Bay, Studio Namasté)
2014- End-year school exhibition (Mossel Bay, Mariaan Kotzé Gallery and Studio)
2015- SCAVA group exhibition (George, George Museum)
2016- Solo exhibition (Potchefstroom)
2017- North-West University group exhibition (Potchefstroom, Sanlam Auditorium Lobby)
2017- ArtWalk group exhibition (Potchefstroom, Potchefstroom Gallery and Museum)
2017- Kaslani Private Nature Reserve Exhibition and Auction for rhino protection fund. (Hoedspruit, Limpopo)
2017 - OpenArt group exhibition with Ric Holt, Trevor Rose, etc. (Mossel Bay, Riviera Hotel)
2018 - Group exhibition at Johann van Heerden gallery. (Garsfontein, Pretoria)
2018 – Solo exhibition titled ‘Unpretty Outcasts', Potchefstroom Museum.