Schwartzberg, a Brooklyn artist of the generation of Steven Parrino, a graduate of Pratt Institute and a student of Lawrence Carroll, began his career in the late 80’s in the galaxy of the Stux Gallery, which brought to the world artists such as Andres Serrano and Vik Muniz. Like Parrino, Schwartzberg challenges the construct of paintings as we know them, playing with the roles of the stretchers, canvas and paint. Schwartzberg also reverses the painting processes, literally turns paintings inside-out and proposes three dimensional works where big volumes of paint – which bear the “heavy weight of painting history” – are intertwined with canvas and wood.
“Early on I felt like I needed to protect painting, so I took it apart.” Howard Schwartzberg
In the early 2000’s, Schwartzberg dedicated all his energy to the creation and implementation of innovative art education programs for underprivileged children within the New York City school system. He returned to painting in 2016, developing several new bodies of magnetic and poignant works, such as the Inverted Paintings, Suspended Paintings, Bandage Paintings and Pouch Paintings.
Howard Schwartzberg was born in 1965 in Coney Island, Brooklyn. He received his BFA from Pratt Institute and his Masters in Education from the University of New England, Maine. Schwartzberg began showing work in 1990 and has been in several group shows in New York, including the Drawing Center and Stux Gallery. He has had solo exhibitions at Momenta Art, Silverstein Gallery, Dorsky Gallery and most recently at 57W57Arts in New York City and Private Public Gallery in Hudson NY. In 1999 the artist created “Surface”, a large environmental earthwork in Socrates Sculpture Park, Long Island City, NY.
During his tenure as a New York City high school art teacher, Schwartzberg has developed art programs for disadvantaged children through out the five borrows. He also taught art to students in the largest high school in Queens, NY for the remaining ten years of his career. In 1999, Schwartzberg received the New York City Art Teachers Association/UFT Honorary Art Educators Award in the High School Category.
After a twenty-year period of focusing his art making with education, in 2020, Schwartzberg retired from the New York City Public School System. In 2016, he started making his paintings once again and looks forward to exhibiting and sharing his work around the world.
My approach has always been to reverse traditional parameters of what a painting is and how it’s made, while using the same inherited materials within the dialect of painting. The canvas, usually torn, sewn or glued together, is repurposed beyond a substrate. At times, the canvas becomes a container or a bandage, emphasizing its textile qualities as it interacts with paint in multiple ways. The paintings are three-dimensional, often protruding from the wall, sharing the viewer’s space. In my work, paint has form and volume, its surface is flat with monochrome color, which at times, seeps through the canvas.