los-angeles

Mary Swanson

Boritzer / Gray / Hamano

The most interesting work I have seen lately has generally been less than a foot square in size—an intimacy of scale that is an invitation into an internal universe. Mary Swanson’s modest airbrushed drawings, meticulous india-ink renderings of a world populated by inanimate but spirited entitles, are a new addition to the category of the small piece. Swanson assembles her small beings from various nameable and unnameable, fragmentary sources: twisted roots, the bowl of a decorative pipe, a tulip, the broken blades of a hand fan, a wooden gizmo that resembles the ribs of an umbrella. Like characters from a soap opera, these parts recur in ever-changing entanglements from painting to painting. Heavy with feminine and masculine connotations, the objects confront each other in awkward embraces and tender face-offs; in Blazing Star, 1995, a shamanlike figure whose body is made of fan blades,

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