Oct 12: Antony Hegarty’s Swanlights

The singer debuts his collection of artwork.


Antony Hegarty, whose haunting, spectral voice has won him admirers from Lou Reed to Björk, has long sung of imagined selves—of growing wings or of becoming a spirit or a beautiful woman. But in Swanlights, his debut collection of artwork (Abrams Image), to be released October 12 in tandem with the album of the same name (his fourth with Antony and the Johnsons), the singer has turned his gaze outward, to ruminate on the fragility all around him. “It’s me trying to reconcile my relationship to the natural world,” he says. In fragmentary, dreamlike paintings, drawings, collages, and photographs—inspired in part by a trip he took to the North Pole three years ago—Antony depicts a world disrupted yet laced with longing and a kind of magical thinking. “I would try to trace invisible lines or map energy lines that weren’t apparent in the photograph, whether it was a dialogue between the trees or between other elements that had been in that environment before the photo was taken,” he says. For the series “Cut Away the Bad,” he altered found images of slaughtered animals by removing the hunter. “Now the animal can start to emerge from her own body and her integrity can be restored,” explains the singer, who started drawing as a way to explore the themes of his music. “I like materials that don’t put anything between you and the impulse. The making of these drawings was almost like a feral process for me—any cavewoman could’ve done them.”

© Antony Hegarty