Viewing Room Main Site
Skip to content

"'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

A horizontal painting of Plank Boy kneeling in snow in a forest staring at their reflection in a stream.

Sean Landers

Plankboy (Narcissus)

2019

Oil on linen

43 x 59 inches

109.2 x 149.9 cm

Plank boy with wings, flying in the open sky. Mountains peak in from the bottom of the frame.

Sean Landers

Plankboy (Daedalus)

2019

Oil on linen

43 x 59 inches

109.2 x 149.9 cm

Horizontally oriented painting of Plank Boy painting  pushing a large rock up a steep rock incline.

Sean Landers

Plankboy (Sisyphus)

2019

Oil on linen

43 x 59 inches

109.2 x 149.9 cm

A lion standing in the forest with a fallen tree branch in front of it. Instead of fur, the lion is painted in a wood grain.

Sean Landers

Lion in Winter

2019

Oil on linen

70 x 52 inches

177.8 x 132.1 cm

painting of a a panda surrounded by some bamboo, mountains are in the background. Instead of fur, the panda is painted in a wood grain.

Sean Landers

Wood Panda

2020

Oil on linen

38 x 32 inches

96.5 x 81.3 cm

lion lounging in snow in a forest. instead of fur the lion is painted in a wood grain.

Sean Landers

Wood Lion

2020

Oil on linen

58 x 76 inches

147.3 x 193 cm

portrait of man in wood grain, a snowy forest is in the background.

Sean Landers

The New Englander

2019

Oil on linen

36 x 30 inches

91.4 x 76.2 cm

Portrait of a chimpanzee, instead of a fur it is painted in a wood grain.

Sean Landers

Wood Chimp

2020

Oil on linen

38 x 32 inches

96.5 x 81.3 cm

Portrait of man in classic 3/4 portrait style. He is painted in a wood grain and the background is a forest.

Sean Landers

Barry Lyndon

2019

Oil on linen

36 x 30 inches

91.4 x 76.2 cm

Painting of three posts full of signs in varying colors. Each sign has writing on it, together they all read:  What a dilemma  Our species is just intelligent enough to fully understand how miniscule we really are.  It’s fit for violins and tears.  The human race is a race where the individual seems to lose.  The only marks we make visible from space are made collectively.  And so far, that’s an accumulation of cities and walls.  Is this who we are?  Does it require a telescope to see us or a microscope? But who is looking besides ourselves?  Even though we believe in other worlds we only have one, our competition is purely intramural.  Our poetry need only reach ourselves, to stay within our capsule and fret not what lies beyond the thin walls… Wait…am I talking about making art for aliens?

Sean Landers

The Only Marks

2019

Oil on linen

77 x 59 inches

195.6 x 149.9 cm

Painting of three posts full of signs. Each sign has writing on it, together they all read:  Truth, truth must be at the heart of this. I could tell you about Sean’s fear of death  and how making art assuages that fear for him, or his sadness about the seeming meaninglessness of life  in the vastness of an uncaring universe. He could say something poetic about art being humanity’s sad answer to eternity, or he could be more cheerful and focus on the joys of life that are in great abundance.   This is a better function and use for art.   There is no shame in smiling. Who ever said happiness was not a worthwhile pursuit of art and life? And how about love? Love is a wonderful subject for art. Is there anything that could make you feel more alive  than falling in love or being in love?   These are the gifts of life  and the incredible miracle of it. Amidst the vast wasteland of the universe here we are on our tiny blue planet drifting through space and time falling in love and making art. It truly is wonderful when you think of it.

Sean Landers

No Shame in Smiling

2018

Oil on linen

77 1/4 x 59 1/2 inches

196.2 x 151.1 cm

A vertical sign post painting. The posts each have text on them, they read: We all live our lives under a vast canopy of stars that politely remind us of our insignificance.  Yet still, we carry on.  Some of us try to force just a little more humanness out of ourselves to make example of our singular existence.  We paint, sculpt, write, sing our flawed melodies and pray that that flaw has a poetry about it others recognize in themselves. We look into the ether and see the flow of words.  We slow them to a writable pace and pull them from translucence into ink on page.  When it’s good we compress carbon into diamonds.   Lashed to horse or wing it is the same muscle be it thigh or breast resisting the gravity that lures our rest when the updraft ebbs and the sun melts waxen wing one is left to fall helplessly arrest.  Wasn't it wonderful to be aloft on word?  But it would be even better if I had a fucking show at the Whitney.

Sean Landers

We All Live

2019

Oil on linen

77 x 59 inches

195.6 x 149.9 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

Back To Top