Sunday, April 25, 2010

Contemporary Artist, Sean Landers: One of the Few Reasons the Armory Show 2010 Didn’t Suck

Dedicated to the exhibition of important artworks from the 20th and 21st centuries, the Armory Show is one of the leading fine art fairs in America. “Every March, artists, galleries, collectors, critics and curators from all over the world make New York their destination during Armory Arts Week.”1 During its eleven years, the fair has become an international institution.2 Above Photo: Sean Landers, Half beaten down, yet cautiously optimistic,1997.Oil on linen,38 1/4 x 32 in.

Additionally, the Armory Show launched a premiere series of public programming in celebration of New York City’s unparalleled artistic communities. Celebrating in a different neighborhood each night, events include special receptions, open studios, art tours, museum discounts, performances, panels, artist discussions and parties.3

This year, Armory Show 2010 featured 267 galleries from 31 different countries. Moreover, this year marked another milestone for the fair with the introduction of Armory Focus: a new section that will feature an important art community every year-- premiering with Berlin.4 Contemporary artist, Sean Landers made his debut at this year’s Armory Show with the Friedrich Petzel Gallery. Lander’s work is humorous, thoughtful, provocative and witty. It possesses a masculine voice of self-awareness as well as a perspective, that expresses an array of emotions including boredom, worry, insecurity, self-satisfaction, disappointment and indifference. At the core of Landers’ work lies an “‘appetite for risk.’ Whether in his use of private experiences as public subject matter or his refusal to rely on a single medium or style, Landers has always challenged himself to make works that expose the process of creation and destabilize viewers’ expectations.”5

Sean Landers was born in Palmer, Massachusetts, in 1962. He received a BFA from the Philadelphia College of Art in 1984 and an MFA from Yale University School of Art in 1986. A comprehensive catalogue of his work was published in conjunction with his solo exhibition at Zurich Kunsthalle in 2004. In 2006, he had one-person shows at Taka Ishii Gallery, Tokyo, and greengrassi, London. Additionally, he participated in many group shows including: “Defamation of Character” at the P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center; "From Damien Hirst's Murderme Collection: In the Darkest Hour There Will Be Light," at the Serpentine Gallery, London; and “Happiness” in the 4th Berlin Biennial for Contemporary Art.6 Photo At Leftt: Sean Landers, Chihuahua II, n.d. Oil on linen. 53 x 45 in.

Over the past two decades Landers’ videos, photographs, paintings, drawings, and audio works, (which are all self-portraits in one way or another) have depicted a seemingly limitless range of characters, in styles varying from cinema verité to polished bronze. The artist finds that the dual strategies of “personal material and formal multiplicity” allow him to frankly and fearlessly “infiltrate his viewers’ consciousness with raw truths about contemporary society-- and the art world in particular.”7 Photo At Right: Sean Landers, The Idiot, 2003. Bronze.

The meaningful narratives which underlie Landers’ work often evolve gradually in nuance and poignancy, however, the visual impact of his works are immediately apparent. “Delicately rendered in a light palette, the paintings are literally and physically built up over layers of ruthlessly honest dialogue.”8 Moreover, Landers’ body of work shares similarities with the writing styles of novelists like Knut Hamsun and Fyodor Dostoyevsky. These authors’ “humanization of the anti-hero and [elegant use of language] to articulate the raw private experience of an individual’s relationship to society have parallels throughout Landers' oeuvre.”9

The brilliance of Landers lies is his innate ability to explore the boundaries of his artistic terrain through various mediums and expose questions about how an artist can possess a certain territory while simultaneously remaining rigorously innovative.9 With seemingly effortless artistic control, Landers draws from aspects of life experiences so that what we know and feel about life as human beings "opens into new realms of depth and complexity." 10 Landers' work breaks with typical fine art conventions and makes viewers feel as though anything is possible in the realm of art. Landers’ paintings remind viewers why they come to see art in the first place: “artists channel fundamental mysteries of experience that can be conveyed by aesthetic means but that are also beyond them. The encounter is beautiful, provocative and sometimes painful, but it is essentially human.”11 Photo At Left: Sean Landers, MacPhee, 2009. Oil on linen, 48 x 45 in.

2. Ibid.
6. Ibid.
7. Ibid.
8. Ibid.
9. Ibid.
10. Ibid.
11. Ibid.

Sean Landers Links: