Alternating between slick illusion and impasto pigment, Ivan Seal's semi-abstract canvases posit an alternate world whose hallucinatory juxtapositions and queasy lighting reflect on and skew our own. In 'Chevette in dub', Seal's third solo exhibition at RaebervonStenglin
, the artist lets memory and invention collide and multiply in a series of paintings that investigates the nature of both.
The exhibition's starting point is the gallery's past life as a garage. In imagining the ghost of the machine that may once have been parked in the space, Seal summoned from his subconsciousness the car of his childhood years, the lemon yellow Vauxhall Chevette his parents drove; which in becoming his paintings' protagonist, becomes also a vehicle for recalling a specific moment in time. The strangulating culture of suburban Manchester in the early 1980s, personified by a pervasive pebble-dash, and an almost-incident from the artist's own very ordinary childhood are summoned from the memory of the Chevette like the Belle Epoque that flowers from Proust's tea-dunked Madeleine. Depicted repeatedly as fractured elements on top of plinths in a style that veers between realist illusion and a Modernist truth to materials (paint is often emphatically paint in Seal's works), Seal's car and its near collision are aggrandised to bathetic and poignant effect, creating stage sets that together point to a story which is left dismantled just as the car has been.
In making the works Seal has constructed scenes, 'building' his images out of mnemonic elements that are cut up and reassembled across the works in the series. This sculptural technique is explicitly likened through the exhibition title to dub music in which a track is dismantled and remixed to create new sonic structures each related yet potentially so different as to be unrecognisable from the original. So it is, in Seal's canvases, with memory; each excursion in paint a phenomenological investigation into consciousness remembered, and remastered.
Ivan Seal was born in 1973 in Manchester to a butcher and ballroom dancer. He lives and works in Berlin.