Hold Still

Cape Town

11 December 2019 -  01 February 2020

“In her latest body of work, Swinney places ecological concerns at the forefront of her focus, bringing the viewer’s awareness to our increasing alienation from natural worlds. Swinney depicts scenes where obscured, maladroit-postured figures occupy ‘protected’ natural environments such as parks and reserves, in an attempt to open a conversation around the consequences of the implied distance between humankind and nature. This insistence on distinction, and the human need to assert control over nature for fear of being subjected to its forces, has led us to our precarious present and predicted future.

[...]Swinney’s work responds to the physical, virtual, and spiritual worlds around her. If art is to imitate life, then art, as Swinney’s paintings are, is a copy of a copy — leading us, again, towards illusion, rather than reality. Swinney engages with Plato’s philosophy of art, which describes the physical world as an imperfect and decaying copy of a perfect, eternal changeless original. This reverts back to the tensions made tangible by Swinney between unreal and hyper-real natural environments, such as aquariums, greenhouses, and botanical gardens. She depicts nature through illustrating the hyper-natural in a dream-like fog, defamiliarising it almost in an attempt to familiarise us with it: to make us feel what nature has been or could be ”

Text by Lindsey Raymond
Read the full text here

Black Pool, 2019. Oil on silk, 252 x 400 cm

Conservatory, 2019. Oil on silk, 300 x 305 cm

This is the world, which is fuller
and more difficult to learn than I have said.
You are right to smudge it that way
with red and then
with orange: the world burns

- Margaret Atwood, You Begin 

Installation view 

Photography: Matthew Bradley
Installation Photography: Hayden Phipps