Since 1990, Ena Swansea has developed her own unique technique, in which she builds up on the canvas a solid graphite ground, a palpable layer of dense metallic texture that serves as pictorial base, background and preparatory stage, theatrical as well as practical. This surface is not just some hyper-chic special priming for the canvas, however; rather it’s a key element in the optical mechanism of the picture, both dominant and subservient to the subsequent deployment of overlying imagery.
The potency of these paintings arises from the contrast and confluence of the two layers, graphite below and a lighter, delicate application of paint above, which creates an ambiguous space of figurative traces, a shimmer of meaning easy to "read" yet tipped to dissolve into a shiny darkness. The graphite element is highly attractive in itself, almost edible in its tactile physicality, especially that thick lip that sticks over the unprimed linen edge. Much pleasure is granted simply by the stroke of paint across lead, the texture of the two as an abstract element, comparable to the rewards of Günther Förg’s oil wash over dense lead sheet.
source: artnet - Adrian Dannatt
Ena Swansea with Irving Sandler