Swinney’s work responds to the physical, virtual, and spiritual worlds around her. If art is to imitate life, then art, as Swinney’s paintings are, is a copy of a copy – leading us, again, towards illusion, rather than reality. Swinney engages with Plato’s philosophy of art, which describes the physical world as an imperfect and decaying copy of a perfect, eternal changeless original. This reverts back to the tensions made tangible by Swinney between unreal and hyper-real natural environments, such as aquariums, greenhouses, and botanical gardens. She depicts nature through illustrating the hyper-natural in a dream-like fog, defamiliarising it almost in an attempt to familiarise us with it: to make us feel what nature has been or could be.1
1. Lindsay Raymond (2019) Ruby Swinney: Hold Still. Cape Town, WHATIFTHEWORLD.
WHATIFTHEWORLD, Cape Town Art Fair, 17 to 19 February 2017.