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Soft Science

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September 15, 2010

The situations presented in my paintings are diagrammatic renderings of engineered environments. I like to pose a fictional view of the ever-changing state of nature and its various forms of adaptation. Selected elements from the natural world persist within the architecture of limitation and categorization. Trees, plants, and mushrooms flourish in crystalline formations in the face of bleak prospects. Walls block the growth of would-be forests. I imagine the substructure of a landscape exposed and visible to reveal networks of hidden layers. The inorganic mimics the organic within these networks in a melding of form and function. Light becomes subjective since so many sources co-exist within a given space. Depicting this multifaceted condition is a challenge I like to take on in my work. I also find a challenge in the positioning of my view onto this altered nature while maintaining a sense of wonderment and critical appreciation for the oddities within it.

The infrastructure/architecture I propose is infused with strains of intelligent nature forming a sort of self-regulating laboratory. A soft take on science and its methods continues to inform my work. Notions of near-future conditions taken from the rich history of science fiction also feed into how I direct the view onto these images. Future Shock, the 1970 science fiction classic by Alvin Toffler, warns of a “dizzying disorientation brought on by the premature arrival of the future.” This was a diagnosis of the real escalation of technology and its possible effects on humanity.

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William Swanson was born in Chicago, Illinois in 1970. He graduated from Rhode Island School of Design in 1992 with a BFA in painting. Swanson has had recent solo exhibitions at DCKT Contemporary, New York, Marx and Zavattero, San Francisco, and Walter Maciel Gallery, Los Angeles. Select group exhibitions include Future Tense: Reshaping the Landscape at The Neuberger Museum of Art in Purchase, New York; Back in Black at Cohan Leslie and Browne, New York; and Bay Area Now 3 at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco. His work has been reviewed and featured in many publications including Art In America, ArtNews, Artweek, Hot And Cold, and art ltd. Swanson currently lives in Oakland with his wife, Alena, and daughter, Elsa.

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