RICKY SWALLOW: KILLING TIME
Gertrude Contemporary, in conjunction with Darren Knight Gallery, Sydney, presented Ricky Swallow’s first solo exhibition in Australia for three years. The exhibition featured one spectacular piece - Killing Time 2003-2004. This work was the most ambitious and detailed carved wooden sculpture this internationally acclaimed young artist had undertaken. With impeccable attention to detail, Ricky Swallow’s works have often been nostalgic, outdated, recognizable everyday objects. He has been known for his replicas of popular culture icons, including a BMX bike, Darth Vader, turntables and iMac skulls. Swallow has breathed life into these objects while silencing them with the same breath, denying their very function and purpose. The apt title of this particular work acknowledged the hours he has invested in each sculpture. Within this exhibition, Killing Time presented as a traditional still life, the very essence of still life; here time stands still, a table laden with fish, crustaceans and other sea creatures. However, this is not a painting, it is meticulously carved from wood, made to scale; a perfect, pale monochrome reproduction. Inspired by the format of Dutch still life paintings and the carved wood ‘trophy’ style of Grinling Gibbons, this work featured a replica of the dining table that Swallow sat down to as a child, and as such the sculpture acted as a self portrait as he had brought back to this table all the animals he had caught and killed throughout his life. Through this piece, Swallow ‘owns up’ to the responsibility of having taken these lives. As Justin Paton describes it in his catalogue essay: "It is a perverse kind of family tree; a chronicle of all the lives that his has stopped".
Since his prior solo exhibition in Australia (Unplugged, Darren Knight Gallery, Sydney, 2000), Swallow had exhibited widely throughout America, Europe, New Zealand and Japan. In 2000 he was invited by the Dunedin Public Art Gallery to take part in their residency program, which culminated in two solo exhibitions in New Zealand. In 2001 the MCA, Sydney held a major exhibition of his work alongside American artist Erick Swenson and as part of the MATRIX Program, the Berkeley Art Museum at the University of California, USA, hosted For Those Who Came in Late, a solo exhibition of sculptures and watercolours. During 2003 his work featured in The fourth sex – the extreme territory of adolescence, curated by Raf Simons at Pitti Uomo, Stazioni Leopalda, Florence and in Still Life at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney. Swallow is currently showing in Living Together is Easy at the Contemporary Art Centre, Art Tower Mito, Japan. Later this year Modern Art in London will host his first solo exhibition in Europe.
[Biographical information current as at May, 2004]
Ricky Swallow: Killing Time, 2 April - 1 May 2004, Text: Justin Paton
A5 catalogue, colour reproductions, 12 pages with foldout poster, $10.00