In 1992, I thought I knew all I needed to know about René Magritte. So, when I saw his retrospective at The Metropolitan Museum of Art that year, I was expecting the expected. That is when I came face to face for the first time with Magritte’s ‘La Période Vache’ (The Cow Period), and my personal favourite painting, Le Stropiat. It made me call into question everything I was doing, while confirming it at the same time. Back then, I was making large, unstretched, stream-of-consciousness text paintings to illustrate my belief that the contents of a mind while in the act of painting were, in fact, the actual content of that painting. When I saw the ‘Vache’ paintings, I saw that very thing being done with images – automatic images akin to automatic writing. I liked the way Magritte thought in his paint. His sense of humour and inventiveness in his ‘Vache’ period were like a cool, fresh breeze within his retrospective. At once, I knew that I had to find my own ‘Vache’ period.
Sean Landers lives in New York, USA. His work will be included in ‘The Everywhere Studio’, which is on show at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami, USA, from 1 December until 26 February 2018. He will have a solo exhibition at greengrassi, London, UK, in 2018.
First published in Issue 6