In 1941, Olivier Messiean premiered his most significant composition, Quartet for the End of Time. The piece was scored for the unusual combination of violin, clarinet, cello and piano, for those were the only instruments available to Messiean, who wrote and performed the quartet whilst an inmate at a German prisoner-of-war camp. Its eschatological nature is surely only to be expected given the circumstances; and yet its very existence speaks to a great sense of humanity, and indeed, beauty. When surveying the work that comprises Nigel Swift’s latest show, Halcyon, one is not surprised to learn that Quartet for the End of Time provided the soundtrack for much of its production, for the same tension between desolation and beauty, lies at the heart of both. Following on the heels of Nigel’s two previous exhbitions with Eames Fine Art, Genesis (2020) and Eden (2021), it is fitting that Messiean’s work takes its ultimate inspiration from the Book of Revelation:

 

And I saw another mighty angel come down from heaven, clothed with a cloud: and a rainbow was upon his head, and his face was as it were the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire [...] and he set his right foot upon the sea, and his left foot on the earth .[...] And the angel which I saw stand upon the sea and upon the earth lifted up his hand to heaven, and sware by him that liveth for ever and ever [...] that there should be time no longer: But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished.