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Jason Seeley's Paintings at Hallwalls

In Loco Parenthetical

Satire as a critical category is an abidingly useful concept enabling comparison, understanding, and insight. In Jason Seeley’s closely observed scenes, a contemplative mixture of empathy and chagrin, accomplished execution is not the question. His photo-mimetic subjects are painted starkly isolated in a vacant field of pristine white. He uses his family members as subjects to heighten a personal identification, but without sentimentality, allowing the viewer a sense of restrained engagement, in the way a magazine illustration in Psychology Today or The Atlantic is set off on an otherwise blank facing page with enough anchoring intensity to pull an inquiring reader into the accompanying article.

In a searing season of violent natural disasters there may be a tendency to view “piled” figures as perished victims awaiting the grim recovery stage of tornadoes, earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes. In Hemingway’s short story series, Men without Women, he recounts the grotesque aftermath of a hurricane in the Florida Keys, images of whole families in intimacy, drowned, clinging to each other, a single mass. Reluctantly other disturbing visions flood the viewer’s imagination, bringing to mind the piled dead of gassed families of Bhopal, India, as well as the gassing of citizens in Kurdish Iraq and, most recently, Syria.

Witness to the mystique of violence extends to a painting of a wary Mother Courage figure, defiantly posed, her two infants in seriously constructed holsters strapped to her thighs, arms free amd at the ready, gunslinger-style.

Seeley is unambiguous in his rendering of contemporary icons of protection, from Snuggie-like Mylar body suits to parachutes, to the morass of tubes and monitoring devices of allopathic medicine. Incongruous, humorous, or portentous, Seeley’s austere paintings serve as visual aids informing the modern human predicament: the ongoing morphing of societal roles, in the face of parental/filial responsibility, and the abject indifference of an often violent world beyond hearth and home.

Seeley’s show at Hallwalls is on view through June 28.

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