Sebastian Black: Star Material

Sebastian Black’s Big Green

Sebastian Black’s Big Green, 2013. Courtesy of Clearing gallery.

Every so often, Sebastian Black transforms hisBrooklyn studio into an exhibition space, wherehe has shown work by Viola Yesiltac and JacobKassay. He calls the gallery Malraux’s Place—“as in Melrose,” says the 29-year-old artist. “Nobody gets it.” Whether it’s studio or gallery, the French theoristAndré Malraux or Heather Locklear, with Black, things are always open to interpretation. What havebecome known as his puppy paintings—mosaicsof puzzle-piece-like shapes that suggest droopyfaces with long ears—are actually thickly paintedRorschachian illusions: Is it a dog, or is it a female nude, or is it a geometric color study in homageto Josef Albers? Last year, at a show at Brooklyn’s Clearing gallery, he paired the works with filmy clothes designed by his girlfriend, India Donaldson—“costumes, to make you into a puppy painting,” Black says. And recently, at the Los Angeles galleryCherry and Martin, he teamed them with smaller gouache works on paper—some made using old press releases, with fragments of letterhead and text still visible—that for him were places to put all the symbolic refuse that has been scrubbed off the larger canvases. “Things overlap,” he says. “It’s just a fact of existence.”

Installation view of Black’s Period Piece (Partition) 2 and Edible Manhattan, 2013. Courtesy of Clearing gallery.