March 15, 2005 - Australian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale - Ricky Swallow
March 15, 2005

Ricky Swallow

Ricky Swallow, Highland Park Hydra/Field Recording, 2003, detail.    

Ricky Swallow
This Time Another Year

12 June-6 November 2005
Vernissage: 9-11 June 2005

Australian Pavilion Venice Biennale 2005
Giardini della Biennale

venice2005 [​at​]

Curator Charlotte Day
Commissioner John Kaldor

One of Australia’s most exciting young artists, Ricky Swallow, will represent Australia at the 2005 Venice Biennale.

The exhibition in the Australian Pavilion will be a personal investigation of themes at the heart of Swallow’s art: the passage of time; life, death and immortality; evolution and survival; monuments and memories. His tableaux of new and recent sculptures recall the composition and fidelity of the 17th century still life tradition, testing its resilience and relevance over time.

The upper gallery in the Pavilion will be rich with historical associations to the closely observed paintings of Willem Kalf, Chardin’s poignant game still life and the fluent trophy designs of the carver Grinling Gibbons. Killing Time (2003) is an inventory of the marine life Swallow caught in his youth, arranged banquet-style on a replica of his family kitchen table. An accompanying ‘air/ground campaign’ wall relief features lizards, birds and rabbits, artfully gathered and arranged. These are not so much trophies of a hunt but a personal memento of his youthful adventures and homage to the animals he turned ‘from real life to still life’.

The lower gallery will be occupied by carvings of living things and inanimate objects more obviously affected by time. A cactus is an ‘organic notice board’ recording the actions of passers-by who have roughly scratched their names and messages into its surface. Snakes intertwine through the ventilation spaces of a bike helmet, oblivious to its inherent protective function. Nearby a skull emerges from the recess of a beanbag – skull and bag appear inseparable making it difficult to ascertain which form came first. A dramatic moment of Baroque proportions is preserved as a solitary skeleton sits fused to a chair, clutching an ornately whittled staff in one hand and a carving knife in the other. With its head gazing upward to the heavens, the skeleton appears in the final moment before transformation or departure.

Thirty year old Swallow has shown in Getting Emotional, Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston USA (2005); The Ten Commandments, Deutsches Hygiene-Museum, Dresden, Germany (2004); Living Together is Easy, Art Tower Mito, Japan and the National Gallery of Victoria, Australia (2004); The fourth sex- the extreme territory of adolescence, (2003) at Pitti Uomo, Florence, Italy; and Remix:Contemporary Art & Pop, Tate Liverpool, UK (2002). A monograph has recently been published by Thames & Hudson.

Australian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale
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