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|I was wrong then I admitted I was wrong, 2011|
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Leung Chi Wo
Raul Ortega Ayala
WITH (with you.co.uk)
Mathew Sawyer creates objects, actions and events that oscillate between the public and private, the troublingly personal and the unsettlingly familiar.
In an ongoing series, which the artist describes as ‘documentary works’, Sawyer chronicles nominal actions through text and photographs. These recently include commemorating his birthday by anonymously placing a Ping-Pong ball with text regarding personal events that have taken place over the past year through a strangers’ letterbox. Sewing 40,000 year-old woolly mammoth hair into a Gap jumper then returning it to the oblivious shop attendant to be resold. Teaching a blackbird to take lunch with him then ceasing to feed her once her trust is gained and she shares food with him. In each instance Sawyer navigates between the tragicomic and poetic, intimate and universal, conceptual and emotional.
Through these actions, Sawyer positions himself as the narrator or storyteller, casting strangers as unassuming actors and implicating himself in their personal lives - whether or not they are aware. Drawing, painting and sculpture are an important part of Sawyer’s practice, often chronicling an imaginary recurring figure, this cartoonlike character transmogrifies from jocular to irksome, augmenting the sometimes-melancholic drive in the work. He appears in Sawyer’s sculptures that incorporate vapid once cared for porcelain figurines that find themselves bear-hugged by a nebulous clay figure, or their features subsumed by an alternative physiognomy.
For numerous years Sawyer’s musical collective Mathew Sawyer and the Ghosts has expanded the artist’s lyricism; his most recent album has been described as a rare blend of humility, honesty and humour. Through this broad practice Sawyer imparts a sense of solitude, in which he both insinuates a distance between himself and the viewer and an intimacy through the shared familiarity of existential anxiety.
Mathew Sawyer’s recent solo exhibitions include UNIT/PITT Projects, Canada, 2011, ROKEBY, 2011 and Swallow Street, 2009 curated by Sarah McCrory, both London. Other solo exhibitions include Galleria Sonia Rosso, Italy, 2008 and 2005 and Jack Hanley Gallery, USA, 2005. In 2010 he was included in the Serpentine’s Map Marathon and in 2000 was included in Protest and Survive at The Whitechapel; he has shown at White Columns, New York, The Prague Biennial, The Approach, Lisson, The Royal Festival Hall, London and Kunstmuseum Luzern.
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