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Tony Swain

Tony Swain Drowned Dust, Sudden Word
Exhibition 19 April – 8 July 2012

An exhibition of new work by Irish-born artist Tony Swain, who trained at Glasgow School of Art and still lives and works in Glasgow. Swain, who was one of the artists representing Scotland in the 52nd Venice Biennale in 2007, is known for paintings depicting complex private worlds painted over newspaper pages, the newspaper providing both the physical ground and the conceptual starting point of each painting.

Swain paints landscapes, cityscapes, seascapes and interiors, frequented and constructed by mountains, sand dunes, meadows, trees, rocks, lighthouses, power stations, landmarks both natural and man-made, boats, bridges, buildings, houses, furniture and domestic objects. His imagery is often on a vast scale, encompassing huge vistas, but also collapses into intimacy. The marks he makes most usually organise themselves into representation, but sometimes remain as passages of painterly abstraction. A lot of the work generates the expectation of narrative, seeming to lead somewhere both conceptually and formally, yet it eschews this expectation, working instead on and with the picture plane. Fragments of the newspaper survive, transformed and transfigured by their inclusion in Swain’s painted world.

This exhibition consisted entirely of new work, made specifically for The Fruitmarket Gallery.

Tony Swain Exhibition Guide

Tony Swain Webfilm

Talks and Events

Dreamtime Painting
Katharine Stout (Curator, Contemporary Art, Tate Britain) explores the way in which Tony Swain creates paintings that have their roots in a world we recognise, but also possess an unreal quality.

Collage and Painting: A Modern Partnership
Professor Brandon Taylor (University of Southampton) examines relations between collage and painting at key moments in modern art, as well as the possibilities still open today.

Related items

Exhibition Poster

This poster was designed by The Fruitmarket Gallery to support the Tony Swain Drowned Dust, Sudden Word exhibition which ran from 19 April – 8 July 2012.

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Exhibition DVD

This DVD supports the Tony Swain Drowned Dust, Sudden Word exhibition that ran from 19 April – 8 July 2012 at The Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh.


Fruitmarket Gallery Publication

This major monograph was been published to accompany his solo exhibition at The Fruitmarket Gallery. It brings together over 65 works ranging from 2006 to new work produced for the exhibition in 2012.


Artist's Edition : Untitled, 2012

This limited-edition silkscreen print was produced by Tony Swain on the occasion of his major solo exhibition at The Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh. Closely related to the work on show in the exhibition, it translates his way of working – with paint and pieced newsprint – into the medium of the print.