Second gallery on my day in Chelsea, I decided to stop by Petzel Gallery and see what was going on. Having not remembered that it was to be a Sean Landers exhibition. Sean is the painter that got wide ranging acclaim for his humongous painting of a white whale. Granted I write most of this from a place of never really knowing much about Landers' work, especially in person. Having not been a big fan of the so called "photo realists" painters of the 80's, now and again one comes around with something new and fresh, Sean is one of those people. With Damien Loeb, Landers is now one of my two favorite photo realist painters.
One thing that stinks about the way galleries and museums let us online see the work, it's only through installation, or single front facing images. These two methods of reproduction do almost nothing for a painter like myself, far away from any chance of viewing these paintings in person. It's one of the reasons I had so many changes of mind how I enjoy a certain painter. So much that I began to stop thinking in one way or another about an artist I only know online. When people like myself get to see the work in person, we usually take photos that have a closer ability for you the online viewer to extrapolate what paintings look like in person. I hope you will enjoy these images along with their details to give a deeper sense that you won't find anywhere else online.
Sean is a poetic painter who is really into history and natural history. It seems he sees this poetry with the eye of a surrealist. Composing paintings that look kitschy and at the same time deeply poetic. I decided first to go into the library room, where I was met with a group of paintings that if seen from a distance, you might think you were looking at a group of book cases, peppered with the language of a poet and painter searching his heart for meaning in his life. I included one detail of how he grows his poetry on the book spines, as I want you the viewer to go down there yourself and dig into it. Unfortunately you can't now as the show was almost over when I got there. Included in these shelves are snow globes of imagery from paintings in the next room over. Granted these are not painted in the same fashion the main paintings are, they give me the sense that I would love to have one of these snow globes for myself. Quite intimate and a bit on the sad side, there is an underlying sense of the questioning of life in these paintings. I have Sean as a facebook friend and right away I sent him a nice message telling him some of my thoughts on the exhibition.
The room of the animals with their surrealist skins are by far the most kitschy work in the exhibition, peppered with plaid covered animals in dreamy natural backgrounds. I feel my favorite was the hog walking away from someone attempting to hunt it. The hog smirking as to say..."ha ha...you idiot".
The far room was a tribute to Moby Dick and the white whale. I could talk about this room and it's paintings for a while, but i'd rather you go in there yourself and take it in. The photos I hope will entice you to go in for a visit or three. I now wish I had visited it at least one more time.
Click on this one ^^ to get some of the poetry Landers does on the book spines. I refused to take more pics as I felt it was something that needed to be seen in person. So for you, the online only viewer, you'll just have to wait till the next time these paintings come around and you can see them. It'll make the trip for you that much sweeter.
The Moby Dick room begins below. Enjoy the imagery, the poetry and the sadness of this great story. Click on the images to see more of the photos, they are quite large when viewed as they were taken.
As I finish up this writing, I think back to the feels that welled up while viewing this exhibition, seeing it definitely gives Sean Landers a higher place in my book. Thanks for the experience, Sean Landers and Friedrich Petzel.