Back and Forth with The Complex

‘Portico’, an exhibition at The Complex Gallery by Mark Swords & Tanad Aaron.

For International Sculpture Day, The Complex shared with us Back and Forth, the exchange of ideas between the artists Tanad Aaron and Mark Swords for their show Portico (7 – 21 May 2021).

The dialogue between the two artists was compiled from conversations regarding their exhibition Portico, and digitalised to create an interactive experience. All images and underlined text are hyperlinked to separate routes of information, expanding on the points of reference which appears throughout the dialogue.


About Portico

The Complex Curators, Mark O’Gorman and Paul McGrane, approached Tanad Aaron and Mark Swords in early 2019 to propose exhibiting at The Complex. Both artists had been on their radar for some time. Mark’s show in Temple Bar Gallery ‘The living and the dead’ (2017) left a lasting impression; he expanded painting by creating a stage for the works to perform as a series of narratives, invoking elements of theatre and scenography. The exhibition dissolved The Complex’s curators expectations of a “painting show”. Tanad’s exhibition as part of ‘Museum of Mythological Water Beasts’ (2018) in Ormston House, alongside his ‘Forerunner’ collaborators Andreas Kindler Von Knobloch and Tom Watt, resonated with the curators for similar reasons. By creating work which directly altered the architecture of the gallery space, it encouraged the curators to question their own parameters around exhibition-making and consider further the possibilities of their non-traditional gallery space.  

Mark and Paul had initially planned on working with the artists separately and had not considered showing their work together. However, as their understanding of their practices developed, they started to see interesting convergences and an intriguing single project began to form. Coincidently, just weeks before they first contacted them, both artists, who did not know each other previously, met in Tanad Aaron’s studio to discuss his recent work. The two decided to collaborate by continuing the conversation, and so, through correspondence and several studio visits, they began their exchange  (their “back and forth” as Swords referred to it), sharing ideas, responding and witnessing developments in each other’s work. This exchange became the basis for an online assemblage of text and images to accompany the physical exhibition. 

About the Artists

Tanad Aaron (né Williams), b.1989 Stuttgart, is a visual artist living and working in Dublin. Tanad works with material production processes, linguistic theory and architectural form. Tanad is the recipient of a Fire Station Artist Studio Award 2019 & Temple Bar Gallery 3 Year Member Studio 2020. Recent exhibitions include The Future and stuff TULCA 2020, Before the Rest (edited by Kathryn Ashill) Glynn Vivian Swansea 2020, Dream of Kiwanosato Yamaguchi Prefecture Japan 2019, Ask the Dust Rua Red 2019, Staring Forms Temple Bar Gallery 2019, Active Archive Slow Institution Project Arts Centre 2019. Tanad works as part of Forerunner, a collaborative visual art & architecture practice and is an associate artists with Grizeale Arts UK. 

Mark Swords lives and works in Co. Wicklow. Since graduating in 2003 with an MFA in painting from NCAD his work has been exhibited both nationally and internationally and is represented in numerous collections. Although primarily a painter Swords’ work often utilises a wide range of disciplines including sculpture, assemblage, weaving and installation. His describes his practice as ”open” and his artwork functions as an opportunity to explore a variety of diverse interests encompassing: graffiti, painting, literature, pattern, everyday surroundings, design and crafts.