·Figuration as a political choice
The ostensibly false naivety and misleading fantasy of this figurative art, inspired by European painting—from Renaissance portraiture to 19th-century Romantic landscape to the Surrealists—highlight both a political and an aesthetic affirmation of the artist's choices. Trained at the Yale University School of Art in the 1980s, Sean Landers explains his adoption of figuration as an alternative stance, a dangerous path that was then fatally irresistible: "Doing figurative painting when I was in art school was the wrong choice to make at the time, when we were being taught minimal and conceptual art. We thought it was absurd, laughable, and so of course, how could I resist it? "
The animal kingdom as a mirror of the self
A conceptual artist, Sean Landers uses his personal experience as subject. Somewhere between biography and fiction, he stages his life as an artist in a mode of self-exposure that resonates with the way we share our lives on social networks today: artifice, tricking, pretense . . . With humor and perhaps irony, he challenges the artist's ego in The Urgent Necessity of Narcissism for the Artistic Mind (Jaguar), where a jaguar with pink and green tartan fur has become Narcissus, literally drinking his reflection in a pond. In the background, like a diorama from a natural history museum, a forest of tree trunks develops as a narcissistic echo, engraved with the artist's first name repeated ad infinitum: Sean, Sean, Sean . . .
For over ten years, Sean Landers has been developing his series of tartan-furred animals. This incongruous, trompe-l'œil use of tartan is a double reference to Magritte: to his so-called "vache" period of 1948, when, in a deliberately coarse style, he undermined the notion of "good painting"; and to the tartan slippers the Belgian surrealist wore to paint.
A presentation in dialogue with the museum's collections
The temporary exhibition room at the Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature will be entirely devoted to this series. While upstairs, in dialogue with the permanent collections, including its animals portraits by Chardin (1699-1779), Oudry (1720-1778) or Desportes (1661-1741), and the naturalized animals, the visitor will set off to meet a parade of creatures as marvelous as they are mysterious: lion and monkey with fake wood fur, rabbit or rooster staring back at their observers, perhaps questioning their own humanity.
The exhibition opens with other series that punctuate Sean Landers' artistic career, demonstrating the extreme importance of text and the written word in his relationship with Surrealism: a forest of birch trees with trunks covered in writing carved into the wood, or a library displaying fanciful titles like riddles or confessions by the artist.
Born in 1962 in Palmer, Massachusetts, Sean Landers received his BFA from Philadelphia College of Art in 1984 and his MFA from Yale University School of Art in 1986. Living and working in New York, he is represented by Friedrich Petzel Gallery in New York, Timothy Taylor in London, Taka Ishii Gallery in Tokyo and Rodolphe Janssen in Brussels.
Sean Landers' work can be found in numerous museums and public collections, including the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Brooklyn Museum of Art, New York; Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Denver Art Museum; Seattle Art Museum; Tate Modern, London; Sammlung Hoffmann, Berlin; and Fundación/La Colección Jumex, Mexico.
Curator : Christine Germain-Donnat, chief curator and director of the Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature
The Urgent Necessity of Narcissism for the Artistic Mind (Jaguar), 2014 / oil on linen, 127 x 165,1 cm /
© Sean Landers, courtesy Petzel Gallery, New York / photo: Larry Lamay
Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, 2015 / oil on linen, 152,4 x 198,1 cm /
© Sean Landers, courtesy Rodolphe Janssen, Brussels / photo: Christopher Burke Studio
Maroon Bells (Deer), 2015 / oil on linen, 208,3 x 157,5 cm /
© Sean Landers, courtesy Rodolphe Janssen, Brussels / photo: Jason Mandella
Wood Chimp, 2020 / huile sur toile de lin, 96,5 x 81,3 cm / © Sean Landers,
courtesy Rodolphe Janssen, Brussels /photo : Christopher Burke Studio