Buffalo Minotaur, ditone print, paper size 66 x 58.4 cm. /26 x 23 inches, image size 61 x 53.3 cm. /24 x 21 inches, edition 100, signed and numbered on the backside, 2017
From Marcel Duchamp to Guy Debord, chance has been a true ally of modern artistic production, an operation able to locate the creative act beyond learned behavior and engrained patterns, beyond what the artist already understands. It is this process that Sean Landers has employed as a starting point for his recent painting series Small Brass Raffle Drum, from which this edition comes. Using this old-school analogue apparatus as a randomizer, the American artist filled it with 300 small wooden cards, each marked with a different feature or ingredient that he’d located by looking back through his own past 25 years of painting production. Spinning the drum, he would then select seven cards to inform the composition of each new work. As such, the drum is capable of generating more than 40 trillion unique combinations – thus functioning as a kind of external brain – to which Landers would then react. For “Buffalo Minotaur,” for example, cards included maze, sunset, buffalo, Minotaur, 1970s leather jacket, and Salvador Dalí and brought into the painterly field not only the autonomous associations these elements carry in their own right (whether via academic or pop cultural discourses, etc.), but also their specific past role within Landers’s own oeuvre: the Minotaur referencing a work he had based on a painting by George Watts that hangs in the Tate; Dalí bearing relation to Landers’s 2014 series of surrealist paintings; and so forth. How Landers then brings these signifiers into narrative tension reveals the psyche of the artist – or in this case, a portrait of the artist … as a young Buffalo Minotaur, perhaps?