Charlie Swan is a European artist, currently based in London after a time in Istanbul. Born in London and engaging in works, which encompass sculptural three dimensional wall pieces that conceptually follow thematics of cultural narratives, coupled with notions of the scientific, and mathematic/geometry. Swan studied for his undergraduate Degree in Fine Art at Wimbledon School of Fine Art and three-dimensional design at Manchester Metropolitan University.
After a period in furniture and Lighting design he chose to pursue fine art professionally and in 2008 relocated to Istanbul. In 2010 was his first major solo exhibition in Istanbul ‘a cubic compass rolls on, and other works’. (A satirical melee of process investigation attempting to find relevance and honesty as a young artist in the 21st Century.) Since then he has had several more solo exhibitions in Istanbul as well as exhibiting in London, France, Mexico and Italy.
Despite a predominantly Scottish lineage, one side of the artist’s family has deep ties to Asia and the Muslim world relocating to Malaysia in 1950. The family history of invention, engineering and fine art is clearly evident in the conceptualization, process and application of the artist’s current working method that Swan refers to as ‘Paving.’
Developed out of an inventive curiosity to unify spatial and temporal repetition within a granulated medium, the technique was born. The origin of the material is a construction of primarily six-millimeter diameter pencil hexagons, allocated on a variety of surfaces, but primarily on board. The result is highly sculptural with comparisons drawn to the atmosphere evoked of master tapestries.
Swan’s materials are collected from all over the world that represent the result of the resources allocation and development of mankind made possible by the overwhelming desire to practice herd behavior. Throughout history humans have formed increasingly larger groups and the formation of these groups have resulted in the need to manage interactions of increasing volume and complexity. The need to explain the social environment and manifestations of the physical world and the development of the human hand resulted in the birth of culture. His references to human culture being cumulative with imitation in learning are a fundamental component if not a point of reference in the work. Given the record sales of pencils worldwide as a result of the emerging markets, despite the impact of computer technology, the importance of the pencil is arguably greater than ever.
A compulsive appetite for knowledge lends Swan’s process to one that is heavily research based, investigating all aspects of human endeavor. Core, directive research coupled with a natural eclectic movement of subject investigation drives the production of imagery within the framework of lateral thinking puzzles. The term lateral thinking, coined by Eduardo de Bono involves solving problems through an indirect approach, using reasoning or ideas that may not follow a traditional process of logic. So hybrids between puzzles and story-telling, indicators of narrative within the technique of ‘Paving’ are present throughout the elements of the artworks, the vast majority of surface being comprised of the segmentation and allocation of the wooden helix of the shavings. Achieved from the base material is a unique relationship between the circle and the line.
The comedy of uncertainty is a recurring theme within the work, with a path of risk and the opportunity of loss offered willingly. The trend in explanation for the universe and our role within it being the creation of myths, gods and spirits. Swan creates discussions of impermanence. The granulated medium producing an invitation to view a reflection of one’s cellular transience.
Swan’s work is held in numerous international private collections, such as London, Istanbul, New York and Porto.