‘a native fear… a featureless protagonist’

February 5 – March 18

Opening Thursday, February 5, 7-9pm

Ian Swanson’s solo exhibition, ‘a native fear… a featureless protagonist’ marks the launch of DFS Contemporary, a new gallery on New York City’s Lower East Side. This is his first solo show in NYC; he has previously had solo shows in Detroit, London, St. Louis, and the Internet. Swanson was in Detroit in December 2014 to see family and collaborate on sculptures with Wendy Ross that were shown at re:view contemporary during Noel Night.

Ian Swanson’s work spans painting, sculpture, audio and installation; working in territory where the slippage between representation and the ineffable brings figuration and abstraction into vivid conversation. His practice comes out of an engagement with the symptoms of a post-Fordist, post-digital, post-authentic ubiquity and its participation in the production of anxiety, despair, fear, et al. Within this context, Swanson reconfigures the potential in familiar images and everyday objects, toying with – in the artist’s own words – the “common touch of their built in obsolescence”.

Swanson was born in Detroit, attending Wayne State University, and subsequently receiving an MFA from Pratt Institute. He founded and participated in artist-run organizations such as ORG, and; inscribing his work with a participatory ethos whereby the spectators’ role within the work, as well as the context in which it is received, is thoroughly considered.

Rather than the irony that often precedes the meta-referential nature of contemporary painting, there is a poetics to Swanson’s work that pushes its affects towards a kind of dystopian romanticism. As a painter, his vocabulary hovers somewhere between painterly and literary tropes: the artwork being something to be projected into, rather than projected upon.

Artist statement

Everything operates the same.

You can predict it relatively easily.  It doesn’t even take much effort.

There are accountants everywhere. Affordable.  It’s rigged before it begins but it doesn’t matter.

Subtly implemented coercion and violence are a pacifier, and cash is the only reward worth working for in pig city.

Initiation into a bloodless connection of tangled nerves and foreign thoughts, and holding it all together some primitive landscape of self — distorted and ugly self.

The holes in your brain from having too much fun.

energy for energy I say.

This place. These people. They’ll take you to brunch and decapitate you w/bottomless mimosas.  A new terror where we end up bankrupt vogue peroxide blonde.

Even the dogs won’t look at me.  Even the dogs on screen in their dens, hovering over their prismatic plastic; detached.

Roofers, they always have work.  I could have been a roofer but I wasn’t so the evenings are bleak? Spent possessing some other invented life and ending up on survival.

Once I dreamt I had a wife who cared for me.  me.

We can sleep wherever we want.  Next to a radiator, a curb, a fern–its a mild choice.  Most of the choices we have are laid bare at point-of-purchase anyway.  We have that authority, but mostly it just makes you think about your credit score. – Ian Swanson, 2015

DFS Contemporary is a brand new gallery opening in the former space of ROX gallery, LED BY Beth Fiore.