Sean Landers

Ben Brown Fine Arts, Hong Kong

November 13, 2019 – January 9, 2020

Ben Brown Fine Arts is proud to present the first solo exhibition of New York-based artist Sean Landers in Hong Kong, and the artist’s inaugural exhibition with the gallery. The exhibition includes a group of paintings of anthropomorphized animals with tartan fur and three nocturnal forest paintings of text-carved aspen trees. These iconic, meticulously-rendered, metaphorically coded paintings embody Landers’s ingenuity for infusing his works simultaneously with humour, self-revelation, artifice, gravity and existential reflection.  

Landers has been successfully developing his tartan-clad animal series for over a decade, each work carrying a unique narrative and symbolism. As a young artist working in New York in the 1990s, Landers was profoundly influenced by an exhibition of René Magritte’s Période vache, a group of garish, caricatured, rapidly executed paintings made in 1948, that marked a radical departure from the artist’s neutral, hard-edged Surrealist works for which he was celebrated; a way of undermining notions of ‘good’ painting and confounding critics in postwar Europe. Notable in this exhibition was a painting of a man with three noses made of tartan skin, smoking three pipes, the tartan apparently inspired by the slippers Magritte wore while painting. Landers experienced his own vache period in the late 1990s, and often circles back to certain imagery and subjects within his varied body of work, such as resurrecting this incongruous use of tartan, literally cloaking his subject matter in a protective fur of tartan, perhaps as a means of preserving his legacy and artistic output which will ideally long outlive him, a notion he constantly explores in his work. Landers created two paintings of pandas, a new animal to figure into his body of work, specifically for his first show in Hong Kong.

Writing has always been an integral part of Landers’s artistic expression, particularly his stream-of-consciousness texts that have appeared in various formats throughout his oeuvre. In the recent arbor glyph paintings, Landers has transcribed his extemporaneous writings onto the bark of meticulously rendered aspen trees, these sublime groves in Colorado of particular interest to the artist as the trees form one of the largest living organisms on earth, entirely interconnected underground. The poetic, provocative, brooding texts examining mortality, art making and other musings, are written vertically on the trunks, interconnected by arrows, the knotted trees seemingly in conversation with one another.

About the artist

Landers was born in Massachusetts, USA, in 1962 and received a BFA from Philadelphia College of Art and MFA from Yale University School of Art, New Haven, CT. Landers has been exhibited at prominent international institutions, including the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, Houston, TX; Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, St. Louis, MO; Denver Art Museum, Denver, CO; Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami, FL; Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, North Adams, MA; New Museum, New York, NY; The Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, Brussels, Belgium; Serpentine Gallery, London, UK; Tate St. Ives, St. Ives, UK; and Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY. His work is included in numerous private and public collections, including the Brooklyn Museum of Art, Brooklyn, NY; Fundación Jumex Arte Contemporáneo, Mexico City, Mexico; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA; Sammlung Goetz, Munich, Germany; Sammlung Hoffmann, Berlin, Germany; Tate Modern, London, UK; Walker Art Centre, Minneapolis, MN; and Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY.