Seán Cummins' paintings evoke mortality and grief by reversing the figure-ground relationship and also through inverting colour in paintings of ‘vegetal being’.
Seán Cummins completed an MA in Fine Art at Goldsmiths College, London in 2000. He recently had a solo exhibition at the Blyth Gallery, Imperial College, London. Previous projects have been shown in USA, Austria, Hungary, Poland, South Korea and South Africa as well as across the UK. Seán attended the Vermont Studio Centre, USA in 2015 as a resident artist and was an Abbey Awardee at the British School in Rome, Italy in 1997. He is a member of the artists’ group Stand Assembly and a resident studio artist at One Thoresby Street, Nottingham.
“Just as an almond tree monitors the increase of daylight, warmth, etc., before initiating the decision to blossom, so an artist should let expression grow and develop until the process is interrupted by an act it has been preparing all along.”
Michael Marder 2018, interviewed by Prudence Gibson,
Covert Plants: Vegetal Consciousness and Agency in an Anthropocentric World, Page 32.
My work reflects a personal experience of grief and mortality by placing value on an intimate moment of life and renewal. I make acrylic paintings using enlarged images of small plants. This process uses negative shapes that emphasise absence and colour that gives the work an otherworldly quality.
After surviving cancer and a double bereavement, my work recently returned to earlier interests in organic and vegetal forms. Stories of survival are among the most enduring humans have, connecting us across culture and time.
As part of my recovery, I was taught mindfulness of observation that I then applied to my plants. Using a negative figure ground relationship makes the image both absent and present. This duality hinges on a thinness of presence. The representation is both here and not here.
Plants are sessile, immobile yet they propagate, grow and thrive. When the superstructures of our life fail us, returning our gaze to small pleasures, shows us that growth can be closer to home.
EDUCATION Seán Cummins
1998-2000 MA FINE ART, Goldsmiths' College, University of London 1998 ABBEY FELLOWSHIP, The British School at Rome 1988-1989 MA FINE ART, Manchester Polytechnic 1978-1981 BA (Hons) FINE ART, Manchester Polytechnic
SOLO & TWO PERSON
2020 A CONTROL ROOM ROMANCE, Blyth Gallery, South Kensington, London
2018 WHERE NONE EXISTS, The Attic, Nottingham
2014 THE POTATO EATERS DISCOVER COLD FUSION, Bonington Gallery, Notts
2012 THORESBY THURSDAY, One Thoresby, Nottingham 2004 CLEAVE, The Economist Building, London
1998 CAN YOU READ THIS? British School at Rome, Italy
1995 THE SENTIENT SKIN, Gasworks, London 1993 TRIANGLE AND BEYOND, Arthouse Gallery, London
2019 DARK CONTROL, The Meter Room, Manchester Contemporary
10 YEARS, 1 Thoresby Street, Nottingham
2017 FULLY AWAKE, House for an Artist, Glasgow
NINE PAINTERS, Syson Gallery, Nottingham
‘w: double u’ TAC, Eindhoven, Netherlands
2016 PARAVENT, Harley Gallery, Notts
2015 STUDIO, Vermont Studio Center, Johnson, Vermont, USA
2014 NO FUN II, The Attic, Nottingham
NO FUN, Enclave, Deptford, London
2012 OPEM2, The Collection Museum and Usher Gallery, Lincoln
RE-GROUPING, Bend in the River, Gainsborough, Lincs
MARBLED REAMS, Modern Institute, Glasgow
2011 MARBLED REAMS, Limoncello, London PILE, Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff, Wales 2010 PILE, Surface, Nottingham TAKE HER FARTHER, The Wasp Room, Tether, Nottingham 2008 DRAWING OUT, Bonington Gallery, Nottingham 2007 DISTANCE, APT, Deptford, London 2006 TOMORROW WILL BE THE SAME, Chung-Ang University, South Korea OPEN THE DRAW, Drawing Space, Southwell, Notts. 2005 FLEAMARKET, Temporary Contemporary, Deptford, London 2004 WILKOMMEN, Metropole Gallery, Folkestone 2003 TRAMPOLINE, Broadway Cinema screening, Nottingham 2004 2002 DEEPER, Rio Cinema screening, London ARCADIA IN THE CITY, Marble Hill House, London DRAIN, Cell Project Space, London THE SHOW, INSA Space, Seoul, S. Korea 2000 ASSEMBLY, Stepney City, London BLANK CANVAS, Artomatic, London 1999 RHIZOME, Gallery Kolo, Gdansk, Poland WAR, PostMasters, Chelsea, New York 1998 CLOSE TO HOME, UFF Gallery, Budapest, Hungary COOKED, Museo Teo, Milan PIEROGI 2000 Flatfiles, Brooklyn, New York. ARTISTS FROM THE BRITISH SCHOOL AT ROME, Villa Crispi, Naples, Italy FULL HEAD OF HAIR, Gasworks, London
interVIEWS, Studio Gallerie, Budapest, Hungary
1996 THULPELO, Cape Town, Republic of South Africa SAD, Gasworks, London JOIN THE DOTS, Galerie 5010, Salzberg, Austria 1994 WHITECHAPEL OPEN, Whitechapel gallery, London LEAD & FOLLOW, Continuity of Abstraction, Atlantis Gallery, London,
Bede Gallery, Jarrow and Poole Arts Centre DAD, Gasworks, London