Gavin Sewell is a mixed-media artist, painter, and print-maker based in Brooklyn and Montreal. His mysterious, novelistic collages and intuitive, expressionist paintings are in collections on four continents.
He creates thoughtful and often intricate mixed media art objects, paintings, and prints. The work’s concerns generally evolve on three axes: First, my experience as a person with low and decreasing vision has heightened my sensitivity to the invisible, ambiguous, the distorted, the grey, and the blurry, as well as the paradoxes of being a visual artist with extreme low vision.
The social and economic concerns of growing up in a dying factory town often inform his choice of materials and palette. In a dual nod to the rustbelt and to mixed media masters like Kurt Schwitters, Louise Bourgeois, the Kienholzes, Fred Tomaselli, and Julian Schnabel, he gravitates towards discarded objects from thrift stores or dumpsters; old magazines and picture books made obsolete by overproduction. His practice seizes consumerism’s anonymous debris of advertisements, litter, and media images and appropriates it into matrices of subjective symbolism.
His lifelong interest in literature and philosophy often guides his approach and choice of subject matter. Because of his visual impairment, he has access to the Library of Congress audio collection for the blind, and the books he listens to while making art transmits a powerful trace to his work.
Surreal storytelling and abstract painting interplay in his wall sculptures layered with photographs and found objects. From patterns discovered in a few select components at the beginning of the process, he interweave layers of material like subplots of a novel, adding elements strategically or intuitively to reach a dynamic equilibrium of intellect and emotion.
The pieces are often conceived as postmodern equivalents to religious icons, memory gardens or totem poles: thought provoking objects in which a viewer’s gaze finds and explores systems of interpretation and meaning. I play in the realm between narration and hypnotic suggestion, implying half seen stories of the absurd, the paradoxical, and the hopeful too.