“… we, viscera … recent work by Sean Semones,” Telephonebooth Gallery

Sean Semones, “Untitled #2”

If you are a fan of the Telephonebooth Gallery, you are likely familiar with Sean Semones, a 2002 graduate of the Kansas City Art Institute now working in St. Louis. His work first appeared at the small studio and gallery in 2002 and is now on view in “…we, viscera…,” an exhibit of new expressionist paintings.

The show is tantalizingly complex. If you look closely, the paintings start to feel like going from one room to the next, with each work offering a different room or multiple rooms. Their shapes, lines and contours drift into each other without losing their distinctiveness.

There is a physical sensation to the experience of these artworks. Even in their abstract and unpredictable qualities, the paintings suggest a hallway here, or a doorway there. In addition to acrylic paint in pinks, blues, yellows and greens, Semones uses media such as black marker.

The works in this show feel akin to poetry. There is an openness to them. There is a dramatic situation even if you can’t put your finger on it. There is musicality that the viewer encounters through mark making and written words. The words “…one going…” materialize in black marker in a painting by the same title, while the words “… one gone…” appear in another eponymous work. Shape and line — drawn, painted, shaped — open into lyricism — thought, written, recited — and vice versa. The visual language can be optimistic and wide, or destabilizing and frenetic, or marvelous and somewhat figurative. In the mixed media “…another nothing…” broad strokes of pink are stacked above the shape of a grave.

Sean Semones, “Untitled #2”

The value of the show is in the moment when you enter the room and get this selection of beautiful artworks that feels private and just for you. Your body enters the room of the gallery as your eyes enter the rooms of the paintings.

In “to find out what…” one encounters a flurry of movement. Three dots in the top-right corner of the canvas form something like a vertical ellipsis. Perhaps something lurks just beyond the corner of the canvas. There’s a lot of scaffolding between what is said and unsaid, a lot of intention, and then stepping out of the way.

Semones seems to be going to paint in multiples. He seems to ask of the material and the canvas “what else?”

I appreciate that in the work.

… we, viscera … recent work by Sean Semones” continues at the Telephonebooth Gallery, 3319 Troost Ave., through July 9. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays and by appointment. Appointments are recommended.The gallery’s COVID-19 policy limits the number of people allowed in at a given time; temperatures will be taken at the door and masks are required. For more information, 816.582.9812 or telephoneboothgallery.com.

Robert Brown

Robert Brown is a full-time practicing poet and artist living in Kansas City, Missouri. His work has appeared in Chicago Quarterly Review and Catamaran Literary Reader.

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