Artist: Sebastian Black
Exhibition title: Completed Paintings
Venue: Croy Nielsen, Berlin, Germany
Date: April 29 – June 4, 2016
Photography: Joachim Schulz, all images copyright and courtesy of the artist and Croy Nielsen, Berlin
For this exhibition Sebastian Black thought it would be good to have an idea, some kind of concept to accompany the illustrious serifs of the press release. Black tells me that during the preceding months he frequently awoke in the middle of the night, trying to catch the dreamy contours of an arrow that he hoped to lodge into this inevitable page. That he never caught it is probably just as well. If we accept that an idea is somehow fundamentally of the medium which gives it form, an idea for an exhibition is likely best articulated not in writing but in exhibiting. An idea for a painting exhibition then should probably be formed in an overlap of real and symbolic space, that is, be comprised of paintings and their relationship to the decidedly un-dreamy contours of a particular architectural reality.
In this case Black has faced all the paintings towards the gallery’s storefront windows. Maybe such a hanging makes oblique reference to the sustained facing-toward-windowliness of the rhetorical category Painting. If so this would explain the thin black X shapes which Black has painted into the works, forms that seem to allude to single point perspective, In-Design bounding boxes, and any of the myriad graphic schema which organize opaque surfaces into illusionistic transparencies.
Behind and around these X’s Black returns to his favorite motif, a puppy face geometrically pared to the point of near total abstraction. In these new works the artist has rotated this motif in progressive 90° increments without shifting their corresponding substrates. A pleasing distribution of wall space is balanced against the interior coherence of any individual painting’s pictorial gestalt. Inevitably some clipping occurs.
Something is also decidedly up with the work’s titles which Black has elongated into meandering quasi-instructional narratives. This is a conceit that allows us to refer to the titles, and to the gallery information stikkers which bear them, as tales (a hamfisted homophonic pun with tails). As such, in the same way that the literal face of the canvas is made into its symbolic face through the application of paint, the painting’s back side is made into a backside through the application of language, of its tale. That this administrative gesture might be construed as the works finishing touch does not seem to really bother the artist. Through it a new kind of painterly wholeness is realized.
Finally Black has decided to mount this press release on a motor behind clear acrylic and a mat board with a 6.5 x 8.5 inch passe-partout. It dances around back there mimicking a show it ought to be explaining. Black tells me that this will be the only physical copy available to viewers in the gallery. In doing so he renders my communiqué both essential and useless, equal parts paperwork and work on paper.
Sebastian Black, Concerning taste let’s ask the apple: Hey apple sliced in half (muzzle). Hey you of black seeds and rotten core (whiskers,nose) of yellow skin, and stem split twain (mouth), of etc and also of etc. Who left you here on the round glass end table (head)? Are you sullying up the Eileen Gray “piece”, the Heath ceramic mugs (eyes)? Or are you, like the film of dry coffee, (pupils) adding just the right touch? Think about it. I’m gonna take a nap and if I’m sunlight when I wake up I’ll alight on you. But if I’m still just meat with arms I’m gonna move you (ears) over by the couch, 2016
Sebastian Black, B (muzzle) U (ear) ren, M(nose)o(eye)sset, Parmenti(pupil)er, Toro(eye)ni(pupil). “No gestures!” (Whiskers) Said the guys, slashing the air. “New gestures!” that is. All very French. On a related note: When I tap U (ear) my phone suggests I. Is that a thought or its obviation?, 2016
Sebastian Black, Oh Cezanne! table tilter (muzzle), apple builder, tree befuddler.Oh Cezanne! Innovator, Keynote speaker, bobblehead (nose mouth). Cezanne! Parlor attendee, foody, whathaveyou. The olives (eyes) on high are ripe around their pits (pupils). The austerity policy equally robust. Hey juicy black flies of the ether (whiskers), It’s time for a harvest. Let’s use our frog tongues (ears). Let’s reach outside the given, and fondle beyond that lumpen circumference (head), 2016
Sebastian Black, My childhood pal always had it good. His newest bike had the newest wheels (eyes). His newest pellet guns had the newest pellets (pupils). His newest feet the newest socks (ears) and so on. He was nice to people but cruel to animals. He’d shoot at pigeons, take the limbs off bugs he caught, one by one, like hangman in reverse (nose, mouth). High level bad boy stuff. I admit it impressed me. Once he showed me a joint coated in white dust (whiskers) in an altoids tin (muzzle). “It’s not from the altoids,” he smirked. After we smoked he drew orange circles in the air with the roach ember (head). Things hung suspended like that for a couple years and then we lost touch. He was on a different path I guess, 2016
Sebastian Black, Press release, 2016
Sebastian Black, Press release, 2016