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The Depot

Photos: Kate-Bowe O'Brien

In early 2019 we approached Tanad Aaron and Mark Swords to propose exhibiting at The Complex. Both artists had been on our radar for some time. Mark’s show in Temple Bar Gallery ‘The living and the dead’ (2017) left a lasting impression; he expanded painting by creating a stage for the works to perform as a series of narratives, invoking elements of theatre and scenography. The exhibition dissolved our expectations of a “painting show”. Tanad’s exhibition as part of ‘Museum of Mythological Water Beasts’ (2018) in Ormston House, alongside his ‘Forerunner’ collaborators Andreas Kindler Von Knobloch and Tom Watt, resonated with us for similar reasons. By creating work which directly altered the architecture of the gallery space, it encouraged us to question our own parameters around exhibition-making and consider further the possibilities of our non-traditional gallery space. ​

We had initially planned on working with the artists separately and had not considered showing their work together. However, as our understanding of their practices developed, we started to see interesting convergences and an intriguing single project began to form. Coincidently, just weeks before we first contacted them, both artists, who did not know each other previously, had met in Tanad Aaron’s studio to discuss his recent work. The two decided to collaborate by continuing the conversation, and so through correspondence and several studio visits they began their exchange (their “back and forth” as Swords referred to it), sharing ideas, responding and witnessing developments in each other’s work. 

This exchange became the basis for an online assemblage of text and images to accompany the physical exhibition. 


Portico Online is an online programme and a means in which to communicate the exhibition to a digital audience. Both artists invited performers/musicians to use the exhibition as a space in which to practice, perform, and experiment. In this context the exhibition acts as a space which supports further collaboration to develop. The engagement programme mirrors the sentiments which brought this exhibition to fruition; exploring collaboration as a means of exchange and the infrastructure of the exhibition as a stage.

Click here to view Portico Online 




Tanad Aaron (né Williams), b.1989 Stuttgart, is a visual artist living and working in Dublin. Tanad works with material production processes, linguistic theory and architectural form. Tanad is the recipient of a Fire Station Artist Studio Award 2019 & Temple Bar Gallery 3 Year Member Studio 2020. Recent exhibitions include The Future and stuff TULCA 2020, Before the Rest (edited by Kathryn Ashill) Glynn Vivian Swansea 2020, Dream of Kiwanosato Yamaguchi Prefecture Japan 2019, Ask the Dust Rua Red 2019, Staring Forms Temple Bar Gallery 2019, Active Archive Slow Institution Project Arts Centre 2019. Tanad works as part of Forerunner, a collaborative visual art & architecture practice and is an associate artists with Grizeale Arts UK.

Mark Swords lives and works in Co. Wicklow. Since graduating in 2003 with an MFA in painting from NCAD his work has been exhibited both nationally and internationally and is represented in numerous collections. Although primarily a painter Swords’ work often utilises a wide range of disciplines including sculpture, assemblage, weaving and installation. His describes his practice as ”open” and his artwork functions as an opportunity to explore a variety of diverse interests encompassing: graffiti, painting, literature, pattern, everyday surroundings, design and crafts.




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