Asteraceae: Swoon Opens New Solo Show @ Underdogs Gallery, Lisbon
Underdogs Gallery is proud to present Asteraceae, the first solo exhibition by renowned American visual artist Swoon in Lisbon, Portugal. The exhibition features a wide range of expressive works in various media – displaying techniques such as the artist’s iconic paper cut-outs and collages, block printing, screen printing, and painting applied to different surfaces such as found objects, canvases or paper, and a unique stop-motion animation film – all created in recent years. Acting as a first introduction to a Portuguese audience, this ensemble of intimate figurative works draws inspiration from Swoon’s personal life and her interactions with people and the world at large, constituting a series of colourful vignettes – at once delicate and powerful – that weave a poetic reflection infused with strong emotions which, while personal in origin, are also universal enough to touch and resonate with us all.
"Asteraceae is the family of flowers to which the dandelion belongs. I’ve been enjoying drawing dandelions lately and, as this is my first exhibition in Portugal, my feeling on sending my works is like being a dandelion that sends out those little windborne seeds. It’s like my first hello to Portugal, and hopefully this hello will grow into something and before long I will visit and make a larger connection to the people and the place from this introduction we’re creating.
"A central theme that’s always present in my work concerns the empathy that opens up whenever you closely examine another person, the way that the act of paying attention is an act of creating connection. This is something that I hope always comes through and can be felt in my work.
"In my mind, the Asteraceae reference also brings up the way that as children we paid close attention to our world. We observed all the details of everything around us. As we grow, we may lose sight of that habit, but when we return to it, through the act of making art, or slowing down enough to take in an artwork, or sitting down to watch the animations, we may find that some of that original sense of wonder returns. We have not lost it, we only need to slow down and observe in order to find it again.
"A deeper set of themes in these works has to do with family, in particular with processing intergenerational family trauma. There are many portraits of my parents and grandparents in this selection of works. Dealing with death and loss has been central to my work over the last handful of years as I went through a period of having a lot of death in my family. As a result of processing that grief, I was called to deal with some deeper issues of unresolved trauma resulting from both of my parents suffering from drug addiction and mental illness. So in the portraits as well as in the animations, I’m doing things like confronting mortality and death, as well as confronting buried trauma and transforming it through the creative process. In the animations, the symbol of the cicada is about going underground to do deep transformative work and then reemerging in a new form." —Swoon