E. Charles Rolwing III
b. 1958, Fairfield, CA


1983 University of Louisville, BA, Fine Art

1985 Ohio University, MFA, Photography

1986 Ohio University, MFA, Printmaking
Rolwing grew up in Louisville, KY, graduated from the University of Louisville, with a B.A. in fine art. He then received a double M.F.A. in printmaking and photography from Ohio University in 1986. Upon graduation he moved to Chicago.
Chicago artist Charles Rolwing readily steps into his painting process with both a head full of visual fodder and inevitably includes a struggle. Rolwing stays open to reworking his images and a silent but vibrant narrative emerges. Here, silence is key. The piece finds itself through this turbulence, emotion and idea it’s own reward. It is this investigation of the accidents and chaos that create new meanings and possibilities. His process keeps him connected to the continuum of human existence, the artwork becoming the footprints of that experience.
Charles Rolwing’s is not a face in the crowd. It is the crowd. Self-portraiture as African mask, bobble-head, clown, stoic, Mickey Mouse. Clinging to a childhood innocence, unable to find a grasp. Rolwing’s disembodied heads give nod to Phillip Guston, Andy Warhol, George Baselitz, and Lucien Freud–an Academy vast in number. His canvases are greedy with texture and color, overfed, aching to speak. And they do, they speak volumes, with lips tightly shut.
There is a place between thought and physical action (idea and image) that the element of chaos enters. Rolwing uses these “accidents” to investigate new meanings and possibilities in his compositions and process.
Each painting is a journey and a battle. The canvas is painted, scraped, wiped out and repainted until an image begins to emerge. No painting in the studio is safe from the brush. The piece finds itself in this process, becoming both the conduit of emotion and the source of ideas.
Each of Rolwing’s paintings embodies the motion of a world turned upside down, eyes shut in an eternal sleep walk, objects float in space, figures are inverted.
There are no answers in the paintings, only a search for the elusive QUESTION.

Rolwing makes the viewer complicit in the reading of his work. His symbols, figures and signs bring their own history to play, but read very personally in the eye of the beholder.
Sometimes cartoonish in appearance, Rolwing’s figures and symbols tap into the detritus of popular culture, elevating it.
Rolwing’s work ultimately taps into a place between ones intellect and accidental process, where meaning is found.