Flesh: Blacks & Whites @ Wei-Ling Contemporary
New kid on the block Sean Lean presents a mesmerising collection of beautifully rendered creatures, and a dead pig. A crown-less cock and a horn-less unicorn project a deep sense of loss, imbuing a fantastical mysticism to these works, which act as an allegorical expression by the artist. The large format is powerful and surprisingly not wasteful, even for a diptych like 'Black Dragon: Black Lizard'. The komodo's tail occupies a full canvas, where rich details can be appreciated despite the dark tones and bleached background.
My understatement: Albinistic and melanistic animals are not common subject matters in oil paintings.
|Work in progress snapshots for 'Black Fighting Teenage Cock: Crownless, Queenless' (2013)|
Sean's Tumblr site is revealing and useful to understand his work process, especially for the paintings with varied colours hidden below the blacks and whites. In 'Black Fighting Teenage Cock: Crownless, Queenless', the chicken is first outlined realistically in light colours, followed by opaque tones in confident brush strokes. 'Black Goldfish: I Have 11 Brilliant Ideas' begins with ochre outlines then bluish shades, eventually coated with dark colours that result in a painting where the blue is no longer visible. Mutation is illustrated as a literal process, with the objective to achieve perfection at all costs. The visible incisions made into the creatures, is a deprivative action not unlike castration.
|White Piglet: When I grow up, I want to be an Astronaut (2012)|
Interestingly in both paintings, the colourful background is painted over with white as an after-event, a forceful typecasting exercise that further alienates the creature and its hapless situation. A close-up appreciation of the cock's hair, piglet's head, and lizard skin, has me anticipating Sean's figurative works in the future. The effort and care that goes into painting a realist subject, in the tradition of Dutch masters, is perhaps as rare as the animals depicted in this exhibition.
Oscar Wilde's understatement: Art finds her own perfection within, and not outside of, herself.
|Work in progress snapshots for 'Black Goldfish: I Have 11 Brilliant Ideas' (2013)|