Tony Swain ‘Undetailed Progress’

Tony Swain, Clues in Formation, 2011, Acrylic on pieced newspaper, 119 x 335 cm
Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead

BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead presents an exhibition of work by Glasgow-based artist Tony Swain. Swain paints using pieced together sections of newspaper as his canvas. With this found, and everyday familiar material he generates dreamlike landscapes and abstracted patterns. A selection of 12-14 new and recent works will be presented in BALTIC’s Level 2 gallery.
Combining a method that uses repeated images and a layering of the paint surface, Swain draws out and unifies contrasting elements. He finds ways in which unrelated images are made to co-exist on the same page, or indeed along the same plane and horizon line. For all these works partly painted pages of newsprint will wait many months before being selected and then pieced together in his Glasgow studio.

Swain uses acrylic paints and fixes his ’works on paper’ direct to the gallery walls. He paints landscapes, cityscapes, seascapes and interiors, frequented by mountains, trees, lighthouses, power stations, landmarks both natural and man-made, boats, bridges, buildings, furniture and domestic objects. His imagery explores these expanded landscapes sometimes encompasses great vistas, but in other cases it collapses in scale, creating moments of intimacy and of still life. Using this medium associated with only cursory glances, the scan through of the daily news, Swain invites our curiosity to look for longer.

Swain’s work generates the expectation of narrative, seeming to lead somewhere both conceptually and formally, yet it sidesteps this expectation, working instead with the picture plane, with ideas of spatial illusion and skewed perspectives. At a time when we are desensitized to an overly saturated image world these painted works work differently; his compositions elude any comprehensive reading, whilst occasional fragments of the newspaper survive all is transformed and transfigured by their inclusion in Swain’s painted world.