The Swimmer


  • Michael Markwick EASLCE



My works are a depiction of a spiritual relationship with the natural environment. I am drawn to the energy, light, color, materiality, surfaces, and compilations of complex forms found in the spaces where man-made structures collide with natural areas. Childhood memories of Michigan wetlands and forests play into my personal creative language, but I also respond to the mixed urban and natural landscape of Berlin. Piles of bones, discarded building materials, and even the energy of strong weather can appear in my works. I aim to capture a relationship with nature that is charged with the playful flux and flow of creation and destruction. I am an intuitive artist who freely explores the painting process.

In this recent large-scale work, “Swimmer” (2019), an abstracted skeletal figure in the upper left of the canvas is caught in a tidal wave of bright blue water and debris. The architectonic aspects of this painting bring to mind the harder-edged shapes of building materials; these forms, too, are being shattered by the water. The great shifting forces of nature can be epic and overwhelming; this “swimmer” becomes a symbol of fragility in the environment.

The Swimmer (2019)

180 x 150 cm (71 x 57 in.)

Acrylic, pigment, and mixed media on linen


Photo: Eric Tschernow


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Author Biography

Michael Markwick, EASLCE

Michael Markwick was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan (USA) in 1974. He completed a BFA at Calvin University (Grand Rapids, MI) in 2000, and an MFA at Indiana University (Bloomington, IN) in 2002. He then immigrated to the Netherlands, later moving to Berlin in 2005, where he continues to live and work. Markwick’s works range from intimate, small-scale paintings and drawings, to large-scale dynamic works where contrasts of luminous color push against muted tones, creating tension-filled images with apocalyptic undercurrents and lyrical poetic play. His work resides in many private and corporate collections in North America, Asia, and the EU, including at the Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp (BE); the Martin von Wagner Museum (Würzburg, DE); Calvin University (Grand Rapids, MI, USA); Indiana University Museum of Art (Bloomington, IN, USA); University of the Arts (Philadelphia, PA, USA); and Purdue University (West Lafayette, IN, USA); amongst many others. Publications of Markwick’s paintings have been included in “Kunstbeeld” magazine (2012), “Ecozona: European Journal of Literature, Culture and Environment” (2013), catalogs for solo exhibitions by Galerie Born in Berlin (2017, 2018, 2020), and a catalog for the solo exhibition “Michael Markwick: New Songs to Learn and Sing” at the Martin von Wagner Museum in Würzburg, Germany (2019).