Paul Sevigny “Sight Unseen”

Freight + Volume (39 Lispenard St.)

poster for Paul Sevigny “Sight Unseen”

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Freight+Volume presents Sight Unseen, an exhibition of new paintings by Paul Sevigny. This is Sevigny’s first solo exhibition with the gallery.

The methods and techniques incorporated into Paul Sevigny’s most recent series of all red paintings—with their subliminal summits, softly defined spaces, and intuited perceptions pierced by figuration—carry over from his more whimsical and colorful works. And while Sevigny’s red paintings came later, conceived over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, their overall significance is less a thing of novelty than a study in the interrelationship of focus and constraint.

The canvases from both series share similar themes and appearances, but there’s a marked sense of individuality that obtains between them. The predominantly red painting Almost lives up to its title through suggesting figuration. However abstract the canvas might initially seem, there’s an organizational rhythm about it not unlike a landscape. Big Brush, by contrast, is more about the materiality of paint and pigment. Vermiculate red lines segment the canvas into zones of energy, anticipating the viewer’s gaze and allowing one to visually dissect the painting however one likes.

The phrase Sight Unseen becomes anagrammatized in Sevigny’s work. The title takes on a more esoteric connotation, perception by way of introspection, which is what abstraction was historically developed to describe. On the one hand, one could say that Sevigny’s canvases offer glimpses into a hypnagogic realm, more meditative than monastic. On the other, there’s a kind of willful tranquility about his works—which happens whenever artists decide beforehand that they will not make up their minds about what a canvas means until after they have finished it.

This, of course, parallels an attitude endemic to the not-quite-eradicated pandemic. The question, “what comes next?” haunts Sevigny’s paintings. The serial nature of his work looks for variation in minute particulars, where difference is magnified against a patterned backdrop. This enveloping backdrop could be the color red, along with its many variant shades, or it could be the way the suggestion of a line divides a visual surface, creating a tessellated image like a map to an unknown territory.

“Paul Sevigny is a night painter like me. When my phone rings at three or four in the morning, I know who it is, and I am always happy to not be up alone. It’s a unique luxury to have a real talk about painting in the middle of the night. He reminds me that what we are doing is about being alive.
Paul’s creativity pulls from the thickness of the New York ether: the whole past, present, and future of it. He’s a multi-dimensional artist and whatever he’s working on, it’s true. It’s for real.”
— Josh Smith, 7/7/21 NYC



from July 15, 2021 to August 21, 2021

Opening Reception on 2021-07-15 from 19:00 to 21:00


Paul Sevigny

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