On view in the Thinkspace project room are new works by Florida-based artist Sean Mahan in Translucent Vision. A painter known for his graphically stylized take on social realism, Mahan creates sweetly nostalgic portraits and illustrative renderings of children, incorporating vintage objects and motifs to explore an idea of cultural obsolescence through the fetishization of symbols and references drawn from bygone eras. With interest in the socializing dimensions of culture and consumption, Mahan encourages the viewer to critically reconsider their preconceptions and engagement with the mores that physically determine not only our ways of seeing but our potential for growth and more substantive existences. Mahan also seeks the innately good and redemptive in the human, drawing from both hopeful and melancholic reserves in his imagery.
Fascinated and disconcerted by the mediation and experiential dispossession that dominates our encounters with the world, especially given our pathological reliance on digitally mitigated forms of communication, Mahan considers the sociocultural fallacies of this ‘progress’ and its ultimate role in shaping and structuring our experience at best, and atrophying it in confinement at worst. Translucent Vision explores this idea of a more mutable, cooperative, and plastically referential framework, in place of a confining one.
Each painting in the new series is executed on a vintage piece of fabric, part of a collection amassed over some time by the artist. Once itself the product of commercial mass manufacture and popular tastes, the found substrate is transformed, re-contextualized, and returned to the world as a singular object. Transformed by the artist’s intervention into an original gesture rather than a cultural artifact, these works suggest both reclamation and loss through their metamorphosis.