ASHES/ASHES is pleased to present a listless witness, a solo exhibition by Ian Swanson. The exhibition will be on view April 5–May 12, 2019, with an opening reception Friday, April 5th, from 6–8 PM.
By visiting the past, is it the future we want to forgive? Or, is every experience throughout life — whether new or relived — just about coming to terms with meaning?
Ian Swanson’s second solo exhibition at ASHES/ASHES addresses the artist’s traditional notions on human condition — what it means to forever belong to the future, while necessarily being tied to one’s past. It is the conscious and continuous deprivation of time — here, the absurd past inside an absurd future — that allows for Swanson’s work to neutralize into a temporary condition of spatial oblivion. Upon entering the gallery, the visitor leisurely numbs into Swanson’s world that is obscure and at first feels like nowhere. Yet the personal — what in the end always survives as the weight of memory — never annihilates its inherent history.
a listless witness watches the life that is lived; a human destiny that is everyone’s to meet — tired of becoming and always hopeful in perceiving. Swanson’s poured paintings ‘sentinels’ are a disorientation for already-lived situations: faces without return, breathing birth as they also disappear. Meanwhile they carry the same purposelessness as any, it is their particular emptiness that allows us to reconstitute the meaning of mortality. What does it mean to experience the intolerable discourse that is the truth without constantly being able to appropriate change?
As we enter the perpetual state of the gaze that is very much inscribed by Swanson’s melancholy for having been free enough to acknowledge life and therefore to desire everything that is, we are reminded of our relentless complicity to witness all that unfolds ahead of ourselves. Locating a god-like, weary viewer amidst the chaos that is observation and memorization, Swanson demonstrates the way we forgive (just because we forget) the sacrifices we make on our way of becoming human. With his ongoing autoportrait series ‘aging,’ the artist extends this very discourse of disorder as he reflects on nature’s perversion where there is nothing for us to decide. How our gaze will never stop being the accomplice of all that has lived, nurturing this inexhaustible dedication to absorb all that ever was.
— Lara Konrad
Ian Swanson (born 1983; Detroit, MI) received an MFA from Pratt Institute (Brooklyn, NY) and a BFA from Wayne State University (Detroit, MI). Recent solo exhibitions include: More than ever, wholesome pleasure, As It Stands (Los Angeles, CA); my tree stays tree, 315 Gallery (Brooklyn, NY); cynics milk, David Shelton Gallery (Houston, TX); our shallow psychic death, Simone DeSousa Gallery (Detroit, MI); feels like feels, ASHES/ASHES (Los Angeles, CA). Recent group exhibitions include: The Unearthly, curated by Adrian Tone, Pratt Institute (Brooklyn, NY); In 3D the basil never wilts REMIX, curated by Michael Pybus, Castor Gallery (New York, NY); Chew Toy Attractors, 67 (New York, NY); Hard Cry, curated by Gabriel H. Sanchez, Lubov (New York, NY); Ignorance is Rich, curated by Alex Bienstock, 67 (New York, NY). Ian Swanson lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.