Swerts’ composition for saxophone quartet, Black Paintings, was commissioned by the La’Ventus Quartet, who gave the premiere at the 17th World Saxophone Congress in July of 2015 in Strasbourg, France. The La’Ventus Quartet is comprised of Alyssa Hoffert, Lauren Wasynczuk, Ben Carraher, and Li-Chun Hsiao. The members of the quartet met while in graduate school at the Hartt School of the University of Hartford in Hartford, Connecticut.
Black Paintings is approximately 12 minutes long and is set in three movements: I. El gran carbon, II. Procession del Santo Officio, and III. Vision fantastica. The Black Paintings to which Swerts refers are the last significant collection of oil paintings by the Spanish artist Francisco Goya. Swerts was “completely struck” while visiting the Museo del Prado in Madrid, Spain, and he chose three of Goya’s works to serve as inspiration for the movements in his quartet.