Tony Swain ‘The Shorter Alphabet’

Installation view, 'The Shorter Alphabet', The Modern Institute, Aird's Lane, Glasgow, 2015
The Modern Institute, 3 Aird's Lane, Glasgow

Tony Swain’s paintings primarily occur on the surface of sheets of newspaper. Using this material support as a space in which to reconfigure and overpaint the original content, Swain replaces, blends, and obscures printed images with painted ones. His paintings weave together fantastical scenes and representations through a method that encompasses image repetition, multiple layers of paint over the printed page, and a stitching together of newspaper pieces to create extraordinary, fragmented compositions. Some of the imagery encountered in Swain’s paintings includes landscapes, cityscapes, seascapes and interiors, alongside more abstract configurations, generated from the expectation of narrative. In each, an equilibrium between the painted scene and the newspaper’s original content is reached – allowing the registration marks, colour bars and the printed text from the verso of the page to be left partially visible within the painting. Swain simultaneously uses the newspaper’s photographs as key points for embellishment and painted images — ‘a synthesis of document and imagination, external fact and internal thought’.

For The Shorter Alphabet Swain has produced several new paintings on pieced newspaper, following on from two recent solo presentations at the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead and Kunstverein Freiburg.

Tony Swain (born.1967, Lisburn, Northern Ireland) lives and works in Glasgow. Swain graduated from The Glasgow School of Art in 1990. Selected solo presentations include: Undetailed Progress, BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead (2015); Other Planets are Available, Kunstverein Freiburg (2015); Drowned Dust, Sudden Word, The Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh (2012); Afterwards in Pictures, The Modern Institute, Glasgow (2011); Recollection Has Not Been Mentioned, Herald St, London (2010); Temperature is here too, Art Now, Tate Britain, London (2009); and Impure Passports, Inverleith House, Edinburgh (2008). Swain was one of the artists representing Scotland in Venice as part of the 52nd Venice Biennale in 2007. Recent group exhibitions include: Continue Without Losing Consciousness, DCA, Dundee (2014); A Picture Show, GOMA, Glasgow (2013); Transmitter/Receiver, Hayward Gallery, London (2011-2013, touring to mima Soundspace, Middlesbrough, The Lightbox, Woking, and Tullie House, Carlisle); and Le Drapeau Noir, Glasgow (2010).