Project Native Informant

Review: Sean Steadman, The Burrow at Project Native Informant, London

February 2019

At first glance, Sean Steadman’s paintings resemble the kind of design you might find on a spray-painted surfboard circa-2003 or hung behind the booth at a low-budget psytrance party (these decorations look the same in any year). They are verdant and psychedelic, a painterly version of Google’s DeepDream AI.

As you continue to look, your eyes soaked by fractals and swelling surfaces, you might remember what the philosopher Gilles Deleuze had to say about surfing in 1985:

“The kind of movements you find in sports and habits are changing ... All the new sports – surfing, windsurfing, hang-gliding – take the form of entering into an existing wave. There’s no longer an origin as starting point, but a sort of putting-into-orbit. The key thing is how to get taken up in the motion of a big wave, a column of rising air, to ‘get into something’ instead of being the origin of an effort.”

Like Deleuze’s surfer, Steadman’s paintings do not begin and end with themselves, but exist in the chaos of the world. What they depict is exactly that moment when form is set into motion, turned inside-out and undone by a relentless gushing beyond itself.

The smallest risk of abstraction is boringness, the greatest is that it elides the world completely. Steadman’s painting’s are wonderful because they avoid both of the above. They are plasmic explosions that you keep staring into for fear that they might morph into something else the moment you look away.

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