Martin Swift is a Washington DC based painter and illustrator who focuses on contemporary figurative realism and absurdist narrative. Through oil paintings and detailed pen and ink drawings, he investigates compelling ideas of gender, sexuality, childhood uncertainty, and science fiction. He graduated with a BFA in Painting from Carnegie Mellon in 2012, and has shown internationally in Berlin, London, New York, Washington DC, and Pittsburgh.
My work explores the nuances of masculinity in America. Due to unhealthy societal pressure to exhibit traditionally masculine traits like aggression, strength, dominance, courage, and honor, males in the United States not only objectify other genders, but themselves as well. This creates something that I refer to as the Paradox of Manliness.
Objectification is presented in a range of symptoms. From body image issues and eating disorders to unhealthy competition, harassment, and violence. Pressures to adhere to a specific physical and intellectual aesthetic leave men feeling inadequate. The expectation that men confront the world impulsively and aggressively contributes to a cultural rejection of male empathy and compassion. My work depicts a spectrum of masculinity and emotional transparency. The paintings celebrate flesh, body modification, stretchmarks, and scars.
This work is a direct response to this Paradox, an acknowledgment of what lies beyond manliness.