AnnaKustera is especially pleased to present FRIDAY, an ensemble of recent works by Sean Mellyn, whose first solo exhibition at this gallery was in 1996.
Committed to virtuoso technique, Mellyn has extended the art-painting-part-assemblage Pop art idioms introduced by Johns, Rauschenberg and Rosenquist to frame his own signature images of children, illumination, refrigeration and snowmen, with all they imply. Drawing upon his entire repertoire of previous images, FRIDAY consists primarily of seven paintings and a painted bronze sculpture developed in tandem with one another as characters and episodes from the first act of a theater of the absurd Passion play. Given the Symbolist dynamics of Mellyn’s art of the past dozen years (all of his works thematically interrelated with one another, key images reappearing in many varied contexts), it seems noteworthy that modern Symbolist art first took shape in the late 1880s when Van Gogh, Gauguin and Bernard all attempted the theme of Christ in Gethsemane as a parable of betrayal, abandonment and self sacrifice.
Mellyn’s highly lyrical account is centered on a sculpture of an overweight snowman atop a precarious stack of discarded boxes, his outstretched arms in quasi-suicidal resignation. Something like the hero of a Pixar misadventure, the snowman for all his inherent purity nevertheless embodies doom by dissolution and evaporation. Each an independent work, the paintings and assemblages are orchestrated in the FRIDAY installation as unsettling counterparts to one another and to the perplexing overall theme. The largest two paintings show the near otherworldly garden setting and the snowman in a nightmarish situation, captive in a red wagon escorted by a posse of children armed with toy store six-shooters. Smaller paintings feature the heads of Judas, Dismas and Gestas, variations on Mellyn’s by now classic images of children with brown paper bags over their heads. The role of Pilate here goes to a painting of a girl with a perfect complexion who contemplates a real glass of water on a three-dimensional shelf just outside the canvas. Paragons of innocence and charm, Mellyn’s children appear troublingly unaware of justice or consequence. No less complex is the token grown-up in FRIDAY, Veronica, who famously pressed a cloth against Christ’s face to capture the God-victim image. In FRIDAY, Ronald Reagan’s image appears on Veronica’s veil that is held by a resin-cast hand extending assemblage-wise from a likeness of the late President’s First Lady.Sean Mellyn’s work has been exhibited nationally and internationally for nearly two decades. His work appears in numerous public and private collections, including the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the New York Public Library, the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, the Progressive Corporation in Ohio and the Logan Collection Vail, Colorado.