Tony Swain exhibition at the Fruitmarket Gallery

Today was an arty day.

We visited the Fruitmarket Gallery, which I love, and today it was the Tony Swain exhibition. I had read a bit about it and was quite interested to see his work. This is the description the gallery gave:

An exhibition of new work by Irish-born artist Tony Swain, who trained at Glasgow School of Art and still lives and works in Glasgow. Swain, who was one of the artists representing Scotland in the 52nd Venice Biennale in 2007, is known for paintings depicting complex private worlds painted over newspaper pages, the newspaper providing both the physical ground and the conceptual starting point of each painting.

Swain paints landscapes, cityscapes, seascapes and interiors, frequented and constructed by mountains, sand dunes, meadows, trees, rocks, lighthouses, power stations, landmarks both natural and man-made, boats, bridges, buildings, houses, furniture and domestic objects. His imagery is often on a vast scale, encompassing huge vistas, but also collapses into intimacy. The marks he makes most usually organise themselves into representation, but sometimes remain as passages of painterly abstraction. A lot of the work generates the expectation of narrative, seeming to lead somewhere both conceptually and formally, yet it eschews this expectation, working instead on and with the picture plane. Fragments of the newspaper survive, transformed and transfigured by their inclusion in Swain’s painted world.” – Tony Swain at the Fruitmarket Gallery

So you can see where my intrigue came from.

I was a little disappointed.

The artwork was quite small, there were maybe 7 or 8 newspaper page sized pieces in one large gallery space. Yes, sometimes little artworks in large spaces look impressive and it works well because you consider each piece individually and wholly without any distractions, and here that was the case but the individual pieces were not interesting enough in themselves to fill the whole place and captivate the viewer.

One thing I did like about the artwork is the idea. Newspapers in themselves, ignoring the content, have a certain charm to them but are uniform which Swain utilizes by subverting that uniformity and playing with the themes within the papers to create his artworks.

I was bored wandering round. I’m finding it difficult to write more than that. It was as boring as the newspaper it was on… poor metaphor but that’s how bored I was!

I left not enlightened, but a little bored and feeling as flat as the newspaper!

But art is subjective, so, Tony Swain if you happen to be reading this don’t feel bad… at least you’re work is in galleries!

Chloe out.


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