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"'Say your goodbyes and never leave.' Anne Sexton wrote 'there is death in every goodbye.' I find that true for paintings as well. We painters transfer fractions of our life into our paintings. One day, paintings will be all that remain of us. By painting we are in a sense saying goodbye, but through the existence of the painting we never leave.” – Sean Landers

 

2020 VISION

Petzel is pleased to announce 2020 Vision, a new essay by Sean Landers. The essay is an intimate, humorous and brutally honest first-person account of the artist’s journey leading up to 2020 and life in lockdown—his misfortunes, reflections, and escapist sessions in the studio. These diary-format vignettes tell the story of the resultant paintings that have helped Sean come out on the other side. Landers brings us through adventures with his alter-ego Plankboy, a raw outcast character looking for the way, guides (or misguides or reroutes) us with his signpost and text paintings, and finally brings us to the sea, a blissful yet darkly clouded force for the artist.

Landers continually obscures the distinction between himself and the voice in his work, approaching deeper issues of identity and philosophy through parody and comedy. Here, for the first time, Sean turns those stream-of-conscious thoughts so essential to his practice to directly address the viewer. In a year that was most disarming and lonely, Landers has candidly detailed his part of our shared experience that was 2020.

The essay, 2020 Vision, is able to be read in its entirety at the bottom of the web page. 

Sean Landers, Plankboy (Pygmalion), 2019, Oil on linen, 43 x 59 in,109.2 x 149.9 cm

Sean Landers, Plank Boy, 2000, Oil on linen, 55 x 47 in, 139.7 x 119.4 cm        

"Made of wood planks, hinges and nuts, bolts and screws, 'Plankboy' is defined by the fact that he does not quite fit into the world in which he exists. Making his first appearance twenty years ago in a body of work signifying Landers’ renewed interest in Rene Magritte’s 1947–48 “La Période Vache,” Plankboy has been making periodic appearances in the work and has become a visual touchstone for the artist, as if to say, “this is where I am now.” While Plankboy bridges the past with the present, he is also bridging artistic truth with mythology. Here the figure becomes a symbol for the struggle of artistic endeavor and the odds that must be overcome in order to continue to create. In a sense, Plankboy is describing the nature of his own existence."

“Sean Landers at Rodolphe Janssen,” Contemporary Art Daily, December 26, 2019

Sean Landers, Both Things at Once, 2018, Oil on linen, 59 1/2 x 77 1/4 in, 151.1 x 196.2 cm

Sean Landers, Ahoy, 2020, Oil on linen, 30 x 36 in, 76.2 x 91.4 cm

Sean Landers Studio, New York City, 2020

"I liked the idea of a journey around the world signifying a journey through life. I liked the amount of solitude and how their stream-of-consciousness was their only companion. In the writing of their journals, many sailors describe how their stream-of-consciousness is like another person on the boat and they’d talk to it. I loved that idea. That’s always been sort of there in my work a little bit, there’s always this other voice that I am kind of in conversation with. So I thought the perfect imagery for me to paint is ocean beneath these text fields."

“Sean Landers,” Frog Magazine, Numéro 19 – Winter 2020

Winslow Homer, Northeaster, 1895; reworked by 1901, Oil on canvas, 34 1/2 x 50 in, 87.6 x 127 cm, Collection of the MET Museum, Gift of George A. Hearn

"I wanted to create half fictional half real worlds in which my characters could inhabit. The first such world I chose was the ocean. I liked it as a location firstly because it’s global, connecting all people around the world. Secondly, a circumnavigation around it seems akin to a journey of a human life through time. Thirdly, whenever you are in the ocean you are in a completely other world, we can’t live there, and its creatures can’t live here. To do this required that I learned to paint the ocean. To do that I did two things–rented a house at the beach in Amagansett, NY, and I studied Homer seascape paintings in books and at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In particular, I looked at Northeaster. Quoting Homer directly in this new series of paintings was meant to connect me painting/being in the present with me having painted/been in my own artistic past."

Excerpt from 2020 Vision

Sean Landers, If I Never, 2020, Oil on linen, 54 x 72 in, 137.2 x 182.9 cm

Painting of the ocean with the following text painted over the image in black: Consider all art ever made, every painting, sculpture, poem, prose, novel, song, play, film, etc, is the sum of all of this humanity happiness or sadness.

Sean Landers

The Sum

2020

Oil on linen

30 x 36 inches

76.2 x 91.4 cm

Painting of stormy ocean with rock peaking in from the lower left hand corner. Black text painted over the image reads: And then we hover in between existence and nonexistence in our paintings and that is both horrifying and reassuring.

Sean Landers

We Hover

2020

Oil on linen

36 x 30 inches

91.4 x 76.2 cm

painting of ocean with the following text painted over it in black: What Can I Write To Truly Move You, To Reach You With These Words. I Want You To Recognize Yourself In My Paintings, For You To See This Fellow Voyager And Say Ahoy

Sean Landers

Ahoy

2020

Oil on linen

30 x 36 inches

76.2 x 91.4 cm

Portrait of a man in a yellow rain jacket. His hands are cupped around his mouth, he is yelling. the ocean is the back ground. in the lower left corner, there is test painted in red that reads "Ahoy there future people, I once lived."

Sean Landers

Ahoy There

2020

Oil on linen

36 x 30 inches

91.4 x 76.2 cm

Portrait of man with ocean and crashing waves in the background. He looks like a clown and has a mustache. the mustache extends into cursive writing on each side reading "sean Landers". in the lower left corner in painted in red is text that reads "I am still this guy".

Sean Landers

Still This Guy

2020

Oil on linen

34 x 28 inches

86.4 x 71.1 cm

portrait of man with an angry sea in the background. his arms are crossed, he is winking, and smoking a pipe. in the lower left corner in red reads: Say your goodbyes and then never leave

Sean Landers

Say Your Goodbyes

2020

Oil on linen

34 x 28 inches

86.4 x 71.1 cm

Portrait of a man in front of an angry looking ocean. Waves splash in the background. The man is wearing a suit and looks a  little disheveled as the wind is blowing through his hair. he has a pipe in his mouth. In the lower left hand corner, painted in red is text that reads, "Art is just human residue that the sun will one day wash away"

Sean Landers

The Professor

2020

Oil on linen

38 x 32 inches

96.5 x 81.3 cm

portrait of man at the wheel of a ship. his mustache is long and is formed into cursive "sincere irony". in the lower left corner in read reads: the only solace is to matter

Sean Landers

Sincere Irony

2020

Oil on linen

36 x 30 inches

91.4 x 76.2 cm

A painting of the ocean with large rocks at the center of the canvas. a wave breaks over the bigger rock. the bigger rock has a face painted on it.

Sean Landers

From Here to Eternity

2021

Oil on linen

58 x 76 inches

147.3 x 193 cm

A text painting with a light blue monochrome background.

Sean Landers

If I Never

2020

Oil on linen

54 x 72 inches

137.2 x 182.9 cm

Painting of dear with antlers against blue sky with clouds. In background, painted over the sky is text painted in black.

Sean Landers

Prodigal Son

2020

Oil on linen

34 x 28 inches

86.4 x 71.1 cm

A light teal monochrome painting with paragraphs of text in black painted over it.

Sean Landers

The Way Back

2020

Oil on linen

54 x 72 inches

137.2 x 182.9 cm

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