Warm Waters: Daniela Schweitzer

Daniela Schweitzer is a Los Angeles-based artist classically trained with a focus on figurative and non-representational abstract paintings. Daniela draws inspiration from the energetic, vibrant colors of her upbringing in Argentina. She uses bold colors and brush strokes in her gestural paintings that tell real and imagined stories inspired by the simplicity of everyday happenings and the importance of human connection.

Renowned art critic Peter Frank asserts that, “No matter how recognizable a particular subject might be in a Schweitzer painting, its identity serves as experiential armature for a vision whose breadth leaves the
particularities of the subject well behind.”

Daniela’s paintings draw upon the emotions of herself and her subject to express narratives that evoke in viewers memories and images saturated with the same feelings. Through her work, Daniela shares with us the joy of painting and transports us to peaceful moments.

What is your biggest inspiration as an artist?

I am inspired by people around me the simple beauty of everyday stories and events. Those small, unperceived movements or gestures, the dynamics and body language of a conversation between two friends, the daily casual interactions between people, a peaceful instance that goes unnoticed to others; these moments inspire me. My surroundings also play a big role in my art. The changing blues and breezes of the ocean by my Southern California studio, the crashing waves, the beautiful light, and the colors and beauty I see during my travels shape my creativity. My figurative abstractions don’t emphasize classical figure painting or portraiture but rather reflect an appreciation for human existence and the feelings of the people around me. The gestural part of my art resides more in the core of emotions and feelings toward the subject.

A lot of your art is influenced by the vibrant colors of South America, where you were raised. How does life in Argentina compare to your life in Los Angeles?

Argentinian culture emphasizes the simple things in life like the daily routine of having “mate”– an afternoon or midmorning social shared tea, or a traditional “asado”– the argentine barbecue shared with family and friends. Family and friendships are very important. Interactions are casual and parties and gatherings often occur spontaneously. You can show up at your friend’s house without previous planning. Dinner is very late, so there is more time for social interaction during the day, but social life continues after dinner too. Life goes at a slower pace, which gives me more time to reflect on my surroundings and appreciate my time with friends and family. What I love about Los Angeles is its diverse culture, warm weather, and scenic landscapes– especially the beaches near my home, which connect my background and experiences to my paintings. Social life with friends is very important to me.

What artists have most influenced your work?

When I moved to California about 25 years ago, I became inspired by and began to study the midcentury Bay Area Figurative Art Movement. I was then and still am particularly drawn to Richard Diebenkorn’s paintings and his loose brushstrokes. I appreciate that he painted figurative and nonrepresentational abstracts simultaneously, which is something that I have also done throughout my career. I love the works of Joan Brown, David Park, Nathan Oliviera, and Elmer Bischoff, who were involved in that same movement. When I was still living in Argentina, another art movement with a similar concept of abstract expressionism inspired much of my process: the “Figuración Nueva” or “New Figuration” group of the 1960s. Their work in permanent exhibitions in Buenos Aires museums inspired much of my transition into abstract work during my early years. I especially appreciate the work of Luis Felipe Noé and the abstract figuration style of Argentine artist Enrique Sobisch. Additionally, the loose and explosive strokes of abstract expressionists such as Elaine de Kooning, Willem de Kooning, and Joan Mitchell influenced my art journey.

I am also inspired by the European masters. I adore Joaquín Serolla’s massive paintings of beach scenes bathed in vivid light. My biggest and earliest inspiration is probably Matisse, whose colors have inspired me to be bold in my palette choice.

What made you decide to pursue a career in medicine while continuing your artistic endeavors?

Drawing and painting was a part of me from a very early age. I remember studying anatomy in my art classes at a traditional art academy when I was around 11 years old. We would study the names and shapes of muscles and how they join with bones to build the body’s physique. Then we would bring that perspective into our live drawing classes with models. We would draw arms, hands, feet, and faces. This study of anatomy as it relates to art planted the seed in my head to study medicine later in life. Once I started medical school, I continued painting in private atelier environments. I love both careers and could not see myself leaving either one; I find that they complement each other. As a physician, I love interacting with patients on a very personal level. I try to bring my observations about people’s lives into my figurative abstract paintings to capture the emotions that we all experience.

How do you work painting into your schedule?

Sometimes this can be difficult. My medical practice can be intense, but painting provides an outlet to draw upon and capture all of the life experiences that are important to me, like spending time with family and friends. Painting allows me to reflect on how I feel about life and transports me to a less hectic world.

Your artwork is often influenced by real or imagined narratives. Where do these stories come from?

I love taking photos of people going about their lives. These are my references for my paintings. In my paintings, I capture my own emotions from when I took the particular picture or perhaps I imagine the emotions of the subjects in the photo. The scenes, stories, and subject matter I paint are selected because they possess a simple, beautiful, and usually colorful human gesture that exudes energetic, calm, or harmonic emotion.

Scenes by the beach and massive colorful blue waters are important elements of my art process. A lot has to do with my childhood memories of summers spent with my family at the beach in Argentina as well as my experience living in this same beach city during my last three years in South America. Since moving to Southern California, I have been fortunate enough to live close to the beach and experience the beautiful Los Angeles sun that has helped me bring extra color and light to my paintings! The ocean connects me to my past and to my family and friends who currently live in Argentina… Water connects us all!

Umbrellas, 12×12, available

Your work is abstract, gestural, and colorful. Have you ever experimented with other styles such as realism?

As an artist, I love to dabble in different mediums and styles. Even though I am usually drawn back to figurative abstracts, I was traditionally trained and therefore have practiced many other styles in the past. More realistic scenes often flourish in my sketches. Many of my early works, which are at my parents’ home in Argentina, are realist in style (figurative, landscapes, and still life).

If you could get coffee with any artist, alive or dead, who would it be and why?

Jennifer Pochinski because she is an amazing artist and person.

What is your favorite city that you’ve traveled to or lived in?

I loved living in Buenos Aires. There was always so much to do and see. Argentina is where I cultivated my love of visiting art museums and photographing people going about their lives in different settings, which inspired me to combine the emotions evoked by the scene or subject into my art. But I live in another little heaven by the beach here in Los Angeles. I am so blessed.

Of all the cities that I have visited, I loved everything that Cuzco, Perú, had to offer. I hope I return there soon.

With our theme of WARM WATERS, where would you travel right now if you could go anywhere?

I long to return to Bora Bora. I love the beautiful light, the laid-back lifestyle, the clear waters abundant in marine life, the cultural traditions of the island inhabitants, and waking up to waves and sea breeze in the bungalows—this type of idyllic setting inspires me to paint!

I also love Tulum. Its beautiful beaches, rich cultural traditions and history, thriving artist community, friendly people, creative cuisine, calm ocean and river waters, and gorgeous nature transport you to a different point in time and let your worries float away.

Dreaming, 48×48, available

To learn more about Daniela and to see what work we have available in the gallery, click here.

— Julia Henegar, gallery intern