Nigel Swinn

STILL

''Larger-than-life portraits are a modern genre but this impressive series, special to New Zealand, is a splendid example.'' - TJ McNamara

9 April - 13 May 2013

Throw a stone into a pond and soon after the last ripple reaches the bank the disturbance passes in to stillness.

The six faces in Nigel Swinn's 'Still' series have achieved a varying degree of repose. The memory of disturbance sits just a layer down from the surface of the facial surfaces of Tim Finn and activist Tipene. The young boy's face is crystal clear. Stillness is magnified by the stunning size of these images. The usual distance between object and viewer is shut down. One enters the face as one might a landscape. The face loses its particularity. Everything turns to tone and texture, and limpidity.
It is the face at rest, alone with itself, removed from the usual social interactions where it is required respond and receive and
perform on its owner's behalf. Such vacated states of being are more usually found in portraits where the sitter has sat for long enough for the face to lapse into a kind of forgetfulness of purpose.

Nigel Swinn's youthful ambition was once to paint portraits. Instead, he ended up selling Lindauer portraits to the parents of his wealthier friends to raise funds for his first OE stint. It would make for a slight biographical note, but for the study of the father and son (Eukaha and Tiki Taane) so powerfully invoking Lindauer's famous Maori portraits.

Swinn has since devoted much of his working life to creating corporate identity systems. 'Still' shirks from the need to present in any other way what the face, left alone, finds in the bathroom mirror, that is, its own essential self. Supersized, what remains turns out to be the simple dignity of the individual.

-Lloyd Jones

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