Bloggers block? Yup, for some reason, I procrastinated in getting this post together and struggled for an opening paragraph that expressed my admiration for the young British-Frankfurt-based painter Seth Pick — until it hit me last Saturday around 5:00 p.m. I arrived home from a slew of weekend errands and realized I accidentally left the curtains open, only to discover the afternoon sunset reflecting onto one of my favorite paintings – Seth Pick’s Mimes (2012). It was an a-ha moment (no lie) that left me breathless, as I enjoyed the oil painting’s glowing presence, accentuated brushstrokes, and the illumination of the Cranach-esque figures escaping from the canvas. It was an unexpected art appreciation moment at its best.
I learned of Seth Pick about three years ago at The Independent Fair. I remember rushing through the closing hour of the fair when I caught eye of these intimate-size oil paintings that were leaning on the floor at the Neue Alte Brucke/Gio Marconi section. The paintings were classic yet contemporary, and maybe a European flare that one might find a the Louvre. There was a mixture of figurative with abstraction highlighted by scratches (interruptions) and stains that defined Pick’s painterly style. I was impressed by the nudes (a first for me) placed within these surreal dreamscapes. But what really struck a chord, were these provocative “Wanking” paintings (also a first) that were so tastefully painted…so unexpected…so good! I chatted with gallerist Mark D. about acquiring one of the works, but they had already been spoken for. So he took my contact info, sent me Seth’s catalog and kept me abreast of Pick’s upcoming shows.
Seth PIck “Boy Wanking” Photo Credit: Neue Alte Brucke
“Two Boys Masturbating” (2011) Photo Credit: Clarence Mews
Since then, I’ve kept tabs on Seth, who attended Goldsmith for his BFA, and just completed his studies at the esteemed Stadelschule in Frankfurt under artist Michael Krebber. Along the way, he was recipient of the prestigious Der Atlas 2013 German Art Student Prize at the Bonnerkunsthallea, and had a string of solo shows including those at Clarence Mews, Martin Van Zomeren and the Kunstverein in Aschaffenberg.
At NADA 2012, Julia Halperin for Artinfo cited Seth’s work , “Among the highlights were petite, surreal, luminous paintings of boys by the sea from the 25-year-old British rising star Seth Pick…”
Seth PIck at Martin Van Zomeren Gallery in Amsterdam Photo Credit: www.amsterdamartstation.com
Last Summer, Seth was included in a group show, “Do Not Disturb” (curated by Elmgreen & Dragset) at Gerhardsen Gerner’s Oslo gallery and just a few weeks ago, opened a solo show, “Biophilia” at the gallery’s Berlin space which runs through December 3.
Seth Pick Vitrine, 2014 Oil on canvas, 80 x 60 cm Courtesy Gerhardsen Gerner, Berlin/Oslo
Seth Pick, ‘Biophilia’ Installation view, Gerhardsen Gerner, Berlin Courtesy Gerhardsen Gerner, Berlin/Oslo
While there is no press release per se, here’s text contributed by Huw Lemmey:
This is an international city and it has its own continents. Strolling through the park, I follow that thought and think of an international border. Their textures and shapes are echoed in the landscape; not as an urban combat zone, but in hedgerows, metal fences, green-flowered water, black searchlights; a musty-humid war, handcuffs Sachs band. The hot sun bakes the grass and to grow beyond its outline residential towers over trees. I make it to the lake, the shallow banks seem cut out of the ground and lined with poured concrete paths. It does not smell just peaches, but rather by chlorine fumes that blow daily for slippery-wet pavement. Crypto-Turkish men. I wonder about anything.
Today, there are a few grim mothers in the park. Sometimes I think the park is the only refuge for humanity in this city. Parks are the cradle of urban solidarity. Body accumulate in the park in search of happiness, not consumption.Victorian garden designers struggled with this double of revolt and pacification, which is inherently the parks, and built mighty Eisenzäume and gates to control the flow of the body.
Seth Pick Outside Plato’s cave lamenting the loss of modernism, 2014
Oil on canvas
80 x 60 cm
Courtesy Gerhardsen Gerner, Berlin/Oslo
Seth Pick Untitled, 2014 Oil on canvas, 50 x 40 cm Courtesy Gerhardsen Gerner, Berlin/Oslo
If I could, I would never leave this park. A panic attack led me here, I stayed to make a tearful phone call and now I am leaving the park a bit freer, easier. Cops hate parks, builders hate parks. Friends love parks, lovers love parks.
Some parks accommodate survivors, other expatriates in exile. In this park, I find two of the latter; a couple, friends, dangling their feet in the lake, while I break out of the woodwork as a member of the militia, by seeking amnesty. In the Spanish culture is a “Pagafantas” a man who is in love with a young woman who they love but not reciprocated.The word means that one is always the one who pays for the Fanta the other.
Huw Lemmey 2014, translated by Maike Fries and Christopher Wöllmer
Seth PIck, Boy in Shrubs (2011) Oil on canvas, 47 x 37 cm Photo Credit: Neue Alte Brucke
In my mind…I couldn’t figure out what was different from when I first saw Seth’s paintings. At first I thought parts of the painting seemed to have a lighter hand, but after looking at them again (online), I realized he’s opted, for the most part, not to paint to the edge of the canvasses resulting in blotch-like compositions. I’m still on the fence and need to get used to this visual framework. According to Seth, “One thing that has stayed the same is this idea of indexicality, the congruity between the locus of the mark and the thing/direction/image/subject it is creating or pointing towards…”
Regardless, Seth’s paintings are skillfully rendered and simply quite wonderful. And, while he does paint pure abstraction, fauna and other critters, it’s his figurative works that captures my curiosity — oddly distorted beauties that exude an air of mystery with a cool hip factor. (Hmmm, speaking of cool, I can so easily see Pick’s paintings hang alongside Ryan McGinley’s buck-naked kids.) Anyway, given Seth’s painting pedigree thus far (still under 30 yrs. old), I’m confident about his steady rise and look forward to seeing what’s in the pipeline. Till then, I’ll just have to follow the late afternoon sun rays and enjoy Pick at home.
“Biophilia” at runs through December 3.
Seth PIck, Naturalists 2012 Oil on canvas, 50 x 40 cm, 19.7 x 15.7 Inch Courtesy: Neue Alte Brucke