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|Made to Look|
ROKEBY will present Mathew Sawyer's inaugural exhibition at the gallery.
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. From 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, to teaching a blackbird to take lunch with him then ceasing to feed her once her trust is gained and she shares food with him. The presentation of each work is as slight as the intervention itself; 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 another 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 porcelain figurines found in charity shops and car-boot sales; the once cared-for characters 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 alblum 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.
This is Mathew Sawyer’s first solo exhibition in London since his Swallow Street exhibition in 2009 curated by Sarah McCrory. Other solo exhibitions include Galleria Sonia Rosso, Italy, 2008 and 2005 and Jack Hanley Gallery, USA, 2005. Last year he was included in the Serpentine’s Map Marathon; he has shown at White Columns, New York, The Prague Biennial, The Whitechapel, The Approach, Lisson, The Royal Festival Hall, London and Kunstmuseum Luzern.
Sawyer graduated from The Royal College of Art in 2002. He lives and works in London.
* Lauren Down, The Line of Best Fit