Sean Christopher Ward is an interdisciplinary artist focusing his efforts of painting in the style of op art, with major influences from Masters of the movement, like Bridget Riley and Victor Vasarely, who utilize flat design to create depth and kinetic movement through strict hard edges and the utilization of masterfully placed colors side by side or next to negative space in order to keep the works constantly moving within the optics of the viewer. Now extending past the singular flat plane, I am expanding to multi-plane artworks in which each level is hand painted or left without paint and it allows the perception of the paint coming off the panels to envelop the viewer within the work itself with the high-gloss nature of resin or multiple layers of wood. The process I use to create my artwork is a mixture of traditional and digital techniques. It begins in the digital realm of Adobe Illustrator to create the design of the works first and foremost, to achieve ultra-crisp and planned results, then transitioning into the traditional realm of hand painting all the fields of colors onto the individual layers of the painting. This process sounds overwhelming, but it has become common practice for Sean’s works and you can see the commitment to excellence through the weeks of time it takes to complete each individual piece. With works in over 730 permanent and private collections spanning 11 countries, including France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Puerto Rico, Qatar, Singapore, the United Kingdom and the US Virgin Islands, the reach of the artwork is expanding as each year progresses! Notable works in private collections include Bob Dylan, Elton John, The Center for Women’s Wellness, Milan Kordestani, The ICT Pop-Up Park, The Pixies and Universal Studios Japan.
“Fading Identities” is an homage to the individuals of our past and present, who may not always be there as a picture-perfect image in your mind, but rather, as a general image of their identity. This is not something that is intentioned to occur, but it is just a process of being human and having fragments, or pieces, of these memories unavailable for recollection. Throughout the past several decades, there have been psychologists studying cognitive ability that have defined the two primary memory systems in the human mind. There is a short-term memory, or “working” memory that holds information about just a few things that are currently on the individual’s mind, but only for a temporary period. Then, there is a long-term memory that can hold immense amounts of information gained through the individual’s lifetime of thoughts and experiences. Each of these memory systems vary in the capable extent of the amount of detail that can provide to the individual. Working, or short-term, memory provides very detailed mental images about a few things that have been on the individual’s mind. While long-term memory is about providing a vast assortment of numerous details, but all to a less crystal-clear image, which the memories, based on their experiences and sights, might seem fuzzy to the viewer. Over time, it is inevitable that the memories begin to fade from their crystal-clear beginnings, and that is where science comes into play again. The information capacity of human memory has an important role in cognitive and neural models of memory, recognition, and categorization, because these process models implicitly or explicitly make claims about the level of detail stored in the individual’s memory. Detailed short-term representations allow more computational flexibility because they enable processing at task-relevant levels of abstraction, but this is traded off with the amount of additional storage available in the mind. We cannot always encode the details of these images perfectly, yet the human mind is a wonderful tool that consistently is able to interpret pieces of a memory and shape these mental forms into a successful recollection of the thought. Much like this process of memory, the façade of celebrity status is held on to in the same way. Whilst the celebrity is focused on by society the image remains clear, but as time progresses, the number of images of such celebrity flashing before the eyes of the viewer begins to dwindle. Over time, that celebrity’s image might fade, but pieces will always remain. Those pieces, like long-term memories, are preserved in the mind and in these paintings which thusly help keep the supports of our society alive within the mind.
“Chromatic Hallucinations” is a body of work that focuses on the ideals of pattern. It can represent many different things throughout humanity. The people, the beliefs they follow, the natural world around you, the history of subjects and the traditions that have been followed. Different colors and shapes vary meanings throughout different cultures, but the idea is carried down from generation to generation. From birth to death, pattern is a part of everyday life and cultural practice. The drive to recognize and form patterns can be from a glimpse into curiosity, discovery of new ideas and experimentation through everyday life. Da Vinci found this “Way of Stimulating and Arousing the Mind to Various Inventions” so invaluable that he applied it not only visually, as a means of inventing landscape or battle scenes, but in musical matters as well. The more patterns we can recognize, the wider our imaginative and creative scope. There is a revolution in the science of design under way, and most people, including designers, aren’t even aware it is taking place. Color, for example, was just researched to find that simply glancing at shades of green can boost creativity and motivation. It is easy to assume that there is correlation between verdant colors and vegetation capable of bearing food, which would mentally trigger the thought of nourishment. There is a science between window views of landscapes aiding in patient recovery, learning in classrooms and expanding productivity in the workplace. Additionally, certain patterns also have a universal appeal. Humanity responds dramatically to balanced pattern so much so that it has been researched to reduce stress levels by as much as 60 percent, just by being the field of vision of the viewer. In a recent piece for Medium, Kevin Ashton recently analyzed “how experts think.” Stating, “It turns out patterns matter, and they matter a lot. A star football quarterback needs to recognize all kinds of patterns – from the type of defense he’s facing, to the patterns his receivers are running, to the typical reactions of defenders. These, of course, has to happen in a matter of nanoseconds, as a 300-pound lineman is bearing down on you, intent on ripping you limb from limb.” The more you are thinking about pattern, the more you can see patterns all around you. Get to work on time in the morning is the result of recognizing patterns in your daily commute and responding to changes in schedule and traffic. Diagnosing an illness is the result of recognizing patterns in human behavior. The same goes for just about any field of expert endeavor – it’s just a matter of recognizing the right patterns faster than anyone else. The future of intelligence is in making our patterns better, our heuristics stronger. In Kevin Ashton’s previously mentioned article, he refers to this as “Selective Attention” which is about focusing on what really matters so that poor selections are removed before they ever hit the conscious brain. While some may be skeptical of Kurzweil’s Pattern Recognition Theory of Mind, they also tend to admit that Kurzweil is a genius. One thing is clear, and that is being able to recognize patterns is much what gave humans their evolutionary edge over animals.
“Expanded Perception” was began this year, specifically for Art Basel, to gain a deeper understanding within multi-planed works of art and the effects of psychedelic color combinations would have on the subject. Each of these works are multiple layers, with some having as many as ten, or others having as few as four. Within each layer, a meticulous amount of paint is added to the resin coats and through the usage of a size 0 or 00 brush, it is very carefully added to the wood panel or resin to keep the shape that was created from diverging out of its boundaries within my own imagination. Much like all my works, these works are part of the “op art” movement that allows movement within a static piece, so the overall visual appearance is more kinetic in nature. Without stepping into too much detail along the process, each of these works take, at minimum, weeks to create, no matter the size. Each layer of paint takes at minimum a day to complete, then each layer of resin takes three days to fully cure to add the next layer of paint on top of it. Much like the works of Jackson Pollock, the environment of the artist is added within each layer of paint, so you will find spills, mistakes, dust, flora or anything of the like that was part of my daily ritual, all by chance, but left in place as the art is created in its realist form, that of which holds a piece of the artists’ life within every layer.