Wednesday, August 4, 2010
'Why so Panicky?' - Sean Landers (2004)
Here's an intriguing piece by Sean Landers, one of my favorite (and in my humble opinion, one of the best) contemporary American artists.
If ever I thought I might suffer from Stendhal Syndrome, I definitely feel it when looking at this painting. This seems fitting, given the title and the subject matter.
It doesn't take itself seriously, this is a good thing. Words are overlapped and repeated, but particular color choices keep it from being literal - "Trust" is done in yellow, a color of cowardice, "Money" is represented as black and blue - melancholy colors reminiscent of bruising. You can follow along and create your own sentences out of the words, "Respect, support immortality" or "Recognition changed excellence" - the meaning changes depending on where you look. It's constantly evolving, never boring, this is what makes it great art. It's self-generating genius.
Landers talks to his audience as a comedian like Jim Gaffigan talks to his audience - in jokey asides. Note the "Art making is narcissism... yes, that's what my videos were about," in the far right portion of the painting.
He may be deliberately making fun of the viewing public, or people like me who ironically dissect his work, but that's neither here nor there.
Samuel Beckett said, "Words are all we have."