ASHES/ASHES is pleased to present feels like feels, the first Los Angeles solo exhibition by New York–based artist Ian Swanson. The exhibition will be on view January 23 – March 5, 2016, with an opening reception on Saturday, January 23, from 6–9pm.
Swanson’s recent paintings approach portraiture by way of abstraction. Rather than coaxing the abstract out of figuration, a tendency in recent bodily abstraction, these take a murkier tack. In his ongoing series Aging (2014–2016), there is no discrete composition, no mark-making as brushed, drawn, or scratched. The lack of bristle or prod suggests an aerosol or stylus, a bypassing of the brush as an extension of the hand, directing us towards the ethereal. An uncertainty sets in as to how the paintings’ surface scars of crusted graphite, mica, and pumice were formed—their place in geologic time also indeterminable. A suite of portraits on black felt also alludes to the passage of time, the cycle between sunset and sunrise, again reaffirming our place in corporeal reality — from a single night to an æon.
Upon entering the gallery, the viewer is confronted with Online Taxes, Inc. (2014), a heavy steel adjustable door-jammer emblazoned with the titular corporation’s name, implying a possible prize giveaway from a bottom-rate internet company. Nearby, the ambiguity as to whether the figure in An Approach (2015) haunts or consoles the foreground figure is echoed by nearby sculptures, each of which relies on a similar rebranding, and the questionable generosity they bring to mind.
Swanson’s paintings are staunchly monochromatic: black, grey, and white. Primary color accents — red, blue, yellow — and the corresponding negative of the image float to the surface and recede below the skin of the painting’s image. This lack of subjective decision-making establishes a narrow scope of control: Here is the hue, here is the accent, here is the feel. Summoning proto-Expressionists and contemporary artists alike, they provide a nuanced chain of continuity between current and past inflections of the human condition as expressed through painting.
Ian Swanson was born in Detroit, MI. He received his BFA from Wayne State University in Detroit and his MFA from the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY. Recent solo and collaborative exhibitions include /recent works at Simone DeSousa, Detroit (2012); studios pretty much an office rn at Welcome Screen, London (2013); ego drift, with Wendy Ross, at WAKE, Detroit (2014); OR or AND, with Ivana Basic at Free Paarking, St. Louis (2014); Vital Shift in Central Observer at Bosi, New York (2015); and a native fear…a featureless protagonist at D’Agostino & Fiore, New York (2015). He lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.
feels like feels also marks the inauguration of the ASHES/ASHES outdoor project space LA/DW~PS. The running theme across artists’ projects will be that of xerophobia. Ian Swanson and Wendy Ross initiate the program with Raft (2016), a collaborative work comprised of two identical pairs of rebranded, DIY rain barrels.
Tony Hope’s permanent installation Untitled (Dawn) (2015) remains on view in the gallery’s bathroom.