The Distance Between Us  

Akinci Gallery

01 May - 5 June 2021

Distance: dis-stare “stand apart”; destance“discord, quarrel”

[...]The title of this show is “The Distance Between Us”, and in this manner the pronoun ‘us’ invites me and you, the viewers, in, while at the same time it excludes us from a more personal and insular ‘us’––the pronoun shared by lovers and friends––in which something is concealed from outsiders, kept outside of the paintings. In Mangroves a man and a woman walk away in different frames, mirroring each other. Separated, but in what looks like the same location. With their backs to us, they are faceless, unidentifiable others. The viewpoint given to us is the first person, as though we were intruding on what appears to be a private moment. There is a context that remains mysterious, a secrecy that is essential to any intimacy.

Swinney has acknowledged the influence of Lacan’s mirror-stage on her work, the point at which the infant (re)cognises the self as an other among others. Like the child whose hand only touches the cold glass of a mirror, the paintings seem to recognise solitude as what unifies us in the world. They are always from this point of absolute subjectivity as a mode of self-erasure, what Primo Levi called the shame of being a person: the persistent facelessness of figures seems to become a mode of self-cancellation. It is instead in colour that we find the self sublimated. The rendering of environs in a single concentration of purple makes the vegetation seem overwhelming, even omnipotent; the two figures are swallowed by the mangroves. An intensity of colour, like Rothko, becomes a world drenched in the self. The vegetation and verdure becomes the greatest omission from the work: the face of the artist.

Text by Noah Swinney 

This poem is concerned with language on a very plain level.
Look at it talking to you. You look out a window
Or pretend to fidget. You have it but you don’t have it.
You miss it, it misses you. You miss each other.

The poem is sad because it wants to be yours, and cannot.
What’s a plain level? It is that and other things,
Bringing a system of them into play. Play?
Well, actually, yes, but I consider play to be

A deeper outside thing, a dreamed role-pattern,
As in the division of grace these long August days
Without proof. Open-ended. And before you know
It gets lost in the steam and chatter of typewriters.

It has been played once more. I think you exist only
To tease me into doing it, on your level, and then you aren’t there
Or have adopted a different attitude. And the poem
Has set me softly down beside you. The poem is you

- John Ashbery, Paradoxes and Oxymorons

Concerning Plants, 2021. Oil on silk. 195 x 285cm

Fountain, 2021. Oil on silk, 175 x 130 cm

Installation view

Installation Images by Peterij Huis
Artwork Photography by Hayden Phipps