British artist Sean Steadman is first and foremost a painter. Steadman is invested in the medium’s specificities and its ability to draw out new visual forms. His practice arises from research into the history of image production, from the prehistoric to contemporary visual culture. His process is essentially intuitive and dialectical: after an initial drawing phase, Steadman works on the entirety of the canvas’ surface, applying, erasing, layering until a suitable starting point is achieved. This initial phase is deliberately fast and decisive, so as not to allow critical reflection. The actual making of the image occurs through what Steadman refers to as the “digging down, where the painting is as much uncovered as it is built up from the outside”.
As seen in his solo exhibitions 1,000,000,000,000 and Cascade, all at once, the paintings appear corseted, perforated, entangled, swollen, or torn, insisting on aggregation through anarchic exposure. Through multiple phases over many months, the final composition can often deviate wildly from the original starting point; however this first phase anchors the works later developments. Steadman’s paintings marshal space, even if their structures are utterly mercurial. They are dialectics of schisms, sediments, breakages, the pulverulent and protuberant of colour and composition.