Space in the works of Sean Shanahan

Sean Shanahan

Le opere di Sean Shanahan in mostra a Milano


Sean Shanahan’s works interact with the environment, which is moulded and shaped to allow the message to release its full expressive force.
Sean Shanahan was born in Dublin in 1960 and from the beginning his research has focused on form and colour, which are the means of painting and his sole interest.

The works of Sean Shanahan

Sean Shanahan | opere

Hysterical Aftermath/ Danza Macabra (4)/
Danza Macabra (1). 2022, olio su MDF / oil on MDF 100 x 100 cm. Ph. Luca Casonato

Sean Shanahan trained at the Heatherley School of Fine Art in Chelsea, London and the Croydon College of Art and Design, where he studied painting and art history.
At the age of 22 he moved to Milan, where he held his first solo exhibition in Luigi De Ambrogi’s gallery. In 1986 he won a scholarship to the Fundación Olivar de Castillejo in Madrid and between 1986 and 1990 he lived and worked between Cologne and New York.

In 1990, Shanahan moved to Italy and shortly afterwards made the crucial choice to abandon acrylic in favour of oil, which allows for a more fluid and transparent layering and enables an immediate perception of the final rendering. In 1994, in an exhibition at the Orchard Gallery in Derry, he presented Untitled, an oil on MDF.

The use of the MDF (medium density fireboard) support, the artist’s stylistic signature, suggests a perception of the painting as a concrete element that wishes to make space for itself and not merely occupy space. Even the oil colour, spread in flat monochrome backgrounds and absorbed by the wooden material, takes on a substantial character in this process, becoming an integral part of the painting and not a mere covering of the surface.

In 1997, he moved to Montevecchia where he set up his studio and devoted himself to the use of a single colour, spread evenly and uniformly, and to simple, defined and three-dimensional formal constructions.

His numerous solo and group exhibitions include Sudden Time (2021) at Villa Panza, Varese, Singular Episodic (2020) at Museo d’Arte Contemporanea in Lissone, Body of Light (2018) at Luca Tommasi Arte Contemporanea in Milan, Seven Last Words (2016) at Galleria San Fedele in Milan, Unique Act (2008) at The Hugh Lane in Dublin.

Sean Shanahan | opere

Hysterical Aftermath/ Danza Macabra (4)/
Danza Macabra (1). 2022, olio su MDF / oil on MDF 100 x 100 cm. Ph. Luca Casonato


From 9 February to 25 March 2023 BUILDING presents Sean Shanahan. Cuore a fette curated by Luca Massimo Barbero, a fully frontal thematic exhibition that stems from the artist’s personal and intimate reflection on the theme of death and eternity.

Sean Shanahan. Sliced Heart
via Monte di Pietà 23, 20121 Milan
9 February to 25 March 2023

The exhibition, which is spread over three floors of the gallery, consists of a selection of autonomous paintings set in a site-specific context characterised by a strong theatricality.
The unexpected, expectation and surprise are the key elements of the project, which proposes three different readings of the relationship between the painting, the exhibition space and the real space.

Metaphorically and concretely breaking through the confines imposed by the structural elements of the gallery, Sean Shanahan’s works, derivatives of monochrome painting, physically inhabit BUILDING’s three-dimensional space in a setting that borders on installation.

The exhibition conceived for BUILDING is articulated in three closely interconnected moments and consists of a succession of unexpected situations, in which the environment is shaped and modelled by the artist to allow the viewer to perceive his works from new and different perspectives.

  • On the ground floor, the works interact with the exhibition space through a dramatic and conceptual use of colour.
  • On the first floor, three large works stand out in the exhibition space, eschewing the two-dimensionality typical of the pictorial medium and instead emphasising their material and tangible presence.
  • The third and final part of the exhibition is freely inspired by the Latin locution “sub specie aeternitatis” and suggests a direct reference to the concept of the immeasurable and the eternal.
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