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November 19, 2022 – January 7, 2023
Sean Landers, a New York-based painter, exhibits new works at Various Small Fires. Animal Portraits, the artist’s first solo exhibition in Texas, is now on display in Dallas.
Landers has produced work that reflects on the artist’s existential concerns over the course of a distinguished career. He scrawls diary-like language across enormous canvases in his early paintings to reveal the emotionally precarious state of the artist’s existence. He uses a cast of recurrent characters in other works, including a clown, a chimpanzee, and a wooden figure by the name of Plankboy. In order to show the difficulties of artistic undertakings, Landers blurs the distinction between himself and these alter identities by using humor and parody. He uses his own life experiences as a lens to understand universal thoughts on self-awareness and self-doubt throughout.
Landers builds on this technique in this collection of work created during the pandemic by including seven animal portraits. The majority of the images are accompanied by aphoristic text that is written above each animal as a visual representation of its inner monologue. He accentuates how subtly expressive each of their faces are by zooming extremely close to them. A lynx peers into the distance while it wonders, “Are they talking about me? What are they saying, is it good?” The viewer is directly addressed in another work in which a fox asks, “Do you still love me?” These texts can be seen as one artist coping with the ups and downs of achievement, but they also reflect universal human emotions.
Whitetail deer and rooster are shown by Landers without any words, as if the creatures were protecting their feelings. The creature’s thoughts can be conjured up by viewers, or they can turn inward and consider their own worries. As students reflect on the anxiety of creating, the dread of failure, and the pursuit of permanency, they can relate to the animal and subsequently the artist.
Sean Landers (b. 1962, Palmer, MA) is a painter and multimedia artist living and working in New York. He received his MFA from Yale University School of Art and his BFA from Philadelphia College of Art. He has exhibited widely and had solo exhibitions at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis; Consortium Museum, Dijon, France; Kunsthalle Zürich, Switzerland; Petzel, New York; greengrassi, London; Rodolphe Janssen, Brussels; Taka Ishii Gallery, Tokyo; Capitain Petzel, Berlin, and Ben Brown Gallery, Hong Kong. His work has been included in exhibitions at The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Museum of Modern Art, New York; New Museum, New York; MoMA PS1, Long Island City; White Columns, New York; Hessel Museum of Art, Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, North Adams; ICA, Miami; Tampa Museum of Art, Tampa, Florida; Musée Magritte, Brussels; Musée d’Art Contemporain de Bordeaux, France; Deichtorhallen Hamburg, Germany; Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt, Germany; 4th Berlin Biennial, Germany; DESTE Foundation, Athens; and Kunstmuseum Luzern, Lucerne, Switzerland. His works are included in public collections including The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; The Brooklyn Museum, New York; The Los Angeles County Museum of Art, California; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Denver Art Museum, Colorado; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota; Seattle Art Museum, Washington; the Tate Modern, London; Fundación/Colección Jumex, Mexico City; Sammlung Goetz, Munich, Germany; Sammlung Falckenberg, Hamburg, Germany; and The Kistefos Museum and Sculpture Garden, Jefnaker, Norway, among many others.