Adam Swica Daybreak
A single image is pressed into memory, recurring, but different every time. In this new series of composite photographs created in his studio, Toronto-based artist Adam Swica recreates a set of conditions that, for a brief moment at dawn, cast day into night. The repeated composition in Daybreak, with its sometimes slight, sometimes dramatic variations, reimagines the myriad incarnations of a momentary light-environment.
At first glance, the richly saturated photographs in Daybreak appear to show the all-too-common view out of a window—a tree, the sky, a landscape in the distance, and some reflections in the glass. These deceptive, intricately constructed images, however, attempt to translate the artist’s impression of a fleeting moment experienced daily at dawn in his studio, when east meets west. Under a range of conditions, morning and darkness coincide in one room—the light cast from an easterly suite of windows reflects through to a westerly, yet unlit horizon. Each photograph in the series operates as a narrow, vertical window, underlining the sense of “viewing through.” Using his benchmark materials—projected light, Cinefoil, cardboard, glass, LED lights, paper, and more—as well as considerable mathematical calculation, Swica builds both the landscape features that populate the scene and the light-information layered upon them.
This project marks the first time that Swica has worked iteratively—typically, his analogue practice involves constructing a large-scale “set” assembled from humble materials, with the intention of capturing a single image, often generated through multiple exposures. The images in Daybreak are driven by the recurring and ephemeral nature of the scene observed—atmospheric changes, density of reflection, and colour variations transform each rendering of an elusive moment into a possible, or an impossible, view. Swica’s methodology invites the viewer to share in the hazy layering of light that characterizes this brief flickering in time, when day and night are glimpsed together.
Expanding the work into three dimensions, and as a new aspect of the artist’s approach to presentation, the exhibition also features an installation of the Cinefoil foliage and an artifact of the light aperture that populated the set in his evocative, moody suite of photographs.
Presented by Christie Contemporary
Adam Swica graduated from The Ontario College of Art (1977), specializing in Experimental Arts and Photography. He was a founding member of The Funnel film collective (1977–82) in Toronto. He pursued a career as a cinematographer, working with many noted directors, including George Romero, George Hickenlooper, Peter Lynch, and Jonathan Sobol. His photographic work has appeared in Impulse Magazine and Prefix Photo (cover). Recent exhibitions include Somewhere (2020); Placeholders (2019), and Free Assembly, with Christine Davis and Vlad Lunin (2017), at Christie Contemporary. His work is held in numerous private and corporate collections, including Telus Sky and Bank of Montreal.