Swamp: Denis Savary

24 August - 20 October 2018 Galerie Maria Bernheim | Zurich





Immersed in greens

Water forming murky pools

there once was a



At dawn-break, sparkling dew cloaks the landscape.

Down in the pit of Santo Stefano di Camastra

the chimneys of the ceramic manufacturers

blow hot smoke in the atmosphere.

Inside tinkling furnaces

wet clay turns red

and tiles emerge.


Forming Swamp seats,

their rugged surface glazed,

as layer after layer of enamel

washes over stencilled patterns.

Elevated on steel frames

the water has been taken out of its bed.


Staring into the dark depths,

ambiguous life-forms

bubble up to the surface.

Floating glistening details,

amphibians' wet membranes

brushing past skin underwater.


A Swamp that subsumes

and transforms shapes.

Bloomsbury squares

spill into Charleston's oval pond.


With the flutter of wings

a lullaby penetrates the mist,

chiselled soft samba wood

and irridescent ridges

echo silver craggy masses.


A small amber vessel

carries Pearl into the night.

Tired and bleary-eyed,

the river blurs and shimmers

all around.

She keeps her secret safe

from the hunter

and sings softly:

‘there was a pretty fly’.




Thus closes our journey in Denis Savary’s Swamp. Its Sicilian beginnings are driven northwards by the artist’s residence in London. There, its vegetation grows in J. W. Waterhouse’s Pre-Raphaelite Ophelia.This artistic backdrop nourishes Savary's ongoing investigation of the collaborative relationship between artist and craftsman, where the mind and hand work together. Each renewed encounter delights, drawing the viewer further into the swamp's depths.


Dr Claire FitzGerald