Performance artist, writer and painter, Sean Landers is in top form in this exhibition of 16 large and medium-sized paintings and 22 works on paper, maintaining his position as master of a unique blend of narcissism and self-deprecating self-promotion. Like Tracey Emin, whom he may have inspired, Landers is not afraid to make an ass of himself if it furthers his artistic aims. Nowhere has he done so more completely and clearly than in this brilliant and hilarious display.
Cartoonish creatures, like distant cousins of George Condo's recent subjects, populate the paintings. In one image a man in a business suit has a penis and testicles for a nose and chin, and stands upon a giant breast. Another shows a woman with silly cartoon faces for breasts and a tree for a head. Call it junior-high school surrealism.
The background of each Landers image is filled with the artist's trademark wacky handwritten text. Similar to the inane humor in Landers' monthly page in Spin magazine, the paintings offer a running commentary with lines like "OK -- enough fucking around -- I need some God Damn Money," or "Whose going to buy this stupid painting?"
Landers' desperate, whiny character is totally compelling because he convinces viewers of his sincerity, if not his integrity. Without trying too hard, he questions notions of artistic personality and authority. Although these goofy paintings may soon find themselves headed for the trash bin like tired jokes of the 20th century, the problems they address are sure to live on.
Landers deserves his place in recent art history because he has dared to puncture one of art's most sacred of cows -- the myth of the artist.
Sean Landers, Apr. 16-May 22, 1999, at Andrea Rosen, 525 W. 24th St., New York, N.Y. 10011.