Floating World

Ruby Swinney


26 November – 21 January, 2023


Press release




Full Details

AKINCI presents Floating World, an exhibition of new paintings, by Ruby Swinney. As has become characteristic of the young South African artist, these works are painted in monochrome colours on white silk canvases.  The paintings on display show idyllic landscapes, often contrasted with man-made structures. The inhabitants of this Floating World are an eerie, spiritualized people, their faces removed, erased, or replaced by light.


The name Floating World, comes from the Japanese term ukiyo, meaning floating, fleeting, or transient world. It’s a term emphasising living in the moment, detached from the difficulties of life closely associated with ukiyo-e, the Japanese art movement, which depicted leisure scenes of the Edo bourgeoisie. The title of Swinney’s show uses the term Floating World for its poignant ambiguity, even absurdity. Like the printmaking of ukiyo-e, Swinney’s paintings also depict a certain urban middle-class leisure: the figures Swinney traffics with are often engaged in banal activities of ‘tastefulness’:  visiting greenhouses, flower gardens, bathing in natural pools, hiking or foraging. But we also feel a keen sadness in these trivialities of the everyday; an attempt to reconnect with nature, to recreate it, conserve it, return to it.