Erick Swenson creates sculptures of striking verisimilitude, depicting hybrid animals that feel strangely familiar yet foreign. Rendered with a naturalist’s sensitivity and incredible precision, the works often present fantastical vignettes of animals ensnared in strange, sometimes devastating circumstances, or quietly poetic scenes that evoke the beauty and tragedy of nature, and by extension of our own human condition. Executed through old master’s studio techniques and often shocking in their realism and remarkable detail, the works take months, sometimes years, for the artist to fabricate, causing new work by Swenson to be incredibly rare.
Swenson’s works investigate the tension between the wild and the tamed, the innate and the cultivated, while highlighting the perversity of culture’s attempts to control natural instincts. As Felicia Feaster states in the March/April 2010 issue of Art Papers, “Swenson may be the Cormac McCarthy of sculptors, with the ultimate isolating event―death―very much on his mind…Swenson’s work manipulates our feeling of helpless despair by asking us to bear witness. The cold silence of his alabaster surfaces and the sense that we are the sole witnesses to these creatures’ death render the solitude and subjective experience of death. While death may be the most ubiquitous of events, it remains the most singular for its victim.”
Erick Swenson was born in 1972 in Phoenixville, PA and earned his BFA from the School of Visual Arts at The University of North Texas in Denton. Swenson was featured in the 2001 New Orleans Triennial, the 2004 Whitney Biennial and in Charles Saatchi’s famed USA Today exhibition in London in 2006. His work has been the subject of solo exhibitions at the Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas; Savannah College of Art and Design, Savannah and Atlanta; The Hammer Museum at UCLA, Los Angeles; and Museum Villa Stuck, Munich; as well as featured in group exhibitions at the Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania; Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston; Shanghai Museum of Contemporary Art, China; Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, Australia; Musée des Beaux-Arts, Lausanne, Switzerland; Collezione Maramotti, Reggio Emilia, Italy; Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, AZ and the Arlington Museum of Art, TX. Swenson is represented by James Cohan Gallery.