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'a listless witness' by Ian Swanson at ASHES/ASHES, New York

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Ian Swanson, Jaundice Sky, 2019
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Ian Swanson, sentinels3, 2019
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Ian Swanson, sentinels3, (detail), 2019
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Ian Swanson, sentinels4, 2019
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Ian Swanson, sentinels4 (detail), 2019
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Ian Swanson, sentinels2, 2019
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Ian Swanson, sentinels2 (detail), 2019
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Ian Swanson, sentinels5, 2019
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Ian Swanson, sentinels5 (detail), 2019
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Ian Swanson, aging15, 2018
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Ian Swanson, aging14, 2018
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Ian Swanson, Frostbitten Elder Troll, 2019
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Ian Swanson, Frostbitten Elder Troll (detail), 2019
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Ian Swanson, Frostbitten Elder Troll (detail), 2019

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

5.4.19 — 12.5.19

ASHES/ASHES

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'Am Zahn - der Zorn' by Jonas Wiese and Lennart Mink Weber at Galerie Raumlinksre

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