Monday, March 28, 2011

Marc Séguin at Mike Weiss Gallery

Marc Séguin, Prayers, 2011. Oil, charcoal, and ash on canvas. 48 x 36 in.
With kiddy criss-crosses and bulky globs of paint, Marc Séguin's style is individualistic, expressive, and understated. This is particularly true for his portrait of Pope John Paul II (Prayers, 2011), in which the edge of the subject's zucchetto seems to fade weightlessly into a canvas left completely blank. Interviews in NY Artbeat and Artslant support the notion that Séguin paints so that people can get into his head and see his view of the world. He is, in this sense, a sentimentalist and mystic. Like a mid-century Modernist, Séguin's approach is so earnest and personal as to express a certain hope to transcend time and culture.

Like a 21st century Post-Modernist, Séguin chooses subjects that are bound to very un-transcendent themes in current events and recent history. It's clear that he paints from photographs, and almost all of his paintings are of people or places about which people's feelings are strong and divisive (e.g. war, genocide, Roman Abramovich, Lee Harvey Oswald). At times, Séguin seems to feed off of these feelings with a moral symbolism (with tar, feathers, or blood red splotches of paint) that can seem downright overt. I doubt that it's easy for any artist to toe the line between the topical and intensely personal in the way that Séguin aims to. He pulls it off with a surprising degree of grace.

Marc Séguin, US Navy Marine Corps (Semper Fidelis), 2011. Oil, charcoal, and ash on canvas. 108 x 78 in.

Marc Séguin, Portrait of Roman Abramovich #3, 2011. Oil, charcoal, and tar on canvas. 24 x 20 in.
Marc Séguin, Native American Man, 2011. Charcoal, tar and feathers on canvas. 24 x 20 in. 

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