Gallery Hopping: The Enchanted Neo-Surrealism of Sean Landers
Landers moves between styles and mediums, but his motifs remain.
The New York-based artist Sean Landers has opened his first exhibition with Capitain Petzel in Berlin last week, titled “Small Brass Raffle Drum,” presenting a completely new body of work. Although all of them were created this year, the paintings in the show in fact build on recurring themes in the artist’s career, which spans three decades.
Working with a unique process of controlled chance, Landers randomly picks small wooden tickets from the titular brass raffle drum, each inscribed with elements from his past work, which involved a range of media, including—early on in his career—text-based art. A combination of seven selected elements serves as the starting point for each oil painting.
Pulling from both his personal image bank and his subconscious, Landers conjures striking allegorical characters that meld the fantastical with the familiar.
The viewer is confronted with a rich visual experience directly indebted to the Surrealism of André Breton, Salvador Dalí, and of course, the pivotal period in René Magritte’s oeuvre. The paintings are abuzz with clues and details linking to art history and to contemplations on the work of the artist—two constants in Landers’s practice.
With each work featuring a single character, Landers returns to motifs such as the lone seafarer—symbolizing the artist’s own stream of consciousness. The bearded captain navigates through space and time, which are sublimated into elements on the canvas as well. Variations on this character have appeared in previous paintings as both a clown alone at sea and an oar-wielding seal.
“Sean Landers, Small Brass Raffle Drum,” is on view at Capitain Petzel from September 16 – October 29, 2016
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