NEW YORK — Sebastian Blanck is standing in front of one of his paintings of two nudes in the shower, which happen to be images of the artist and his girlfriend, painter Isca Greenfield-Sanders. Deliberately interspersed semi-opaque dots billow across the canvas, camouflaging and revealing the figures like a curtain, echoing the dots that appear on a floating glass floor throughout the 15,000-square-foot room where it hangs. He’s pleased. The colors and texture of the painting complement its surroundings as if it were commissioned specifically for the exhibition space. But any similarities between Blanck’s art and TriBeCa Issey Miyake, the boutique on Hudson Street designed by Frank Gehry where his pictures will hang until Aug. 31, are purely coincidental.
Blanck, 25, has perfected a style that at once recalls Roy Lichtenstein’s comic strip series and Bonnard’s bathing nudes. After some trial and error — early methods included painting each dot on the canvas by hand — Blanck now uses a stencil. “I’m pushing paint through this space so there’s a transparency,” he says. “It’s like Cezanne, who put a really opaque brush stroke next to a really transparent brushstroke so the whole painting has this undulating quality.”
And unlike many artists of his generation, who have shunned painting for other mediums such as video and photography, Blanck is committed to the canvas. “I still think there’s room for things to happen in painting,” he says. “You really have to squeeze it for all it’s worth.”
Like his precocious girlfriend, Blanck was accepted to the American Academy in Rome on a visiting artists program, and his work has been exhibited internationally ever since. Blanck attended the Rhode Island School of Design, intent on becoming a sculptor. As he began dabbling with painting, he found that it better suited his personality. “It’s very much about the practice of going to the studio and working,” says Blanck, who was a studio assistant for Alex Katz for three years.
But for Blanck, painting is work that doesn’t stand in the way of love. He claims that he doesn’t compete with Greenfield-Sanders, whose first solo exhibition in New York was held at Lombard-Freid Fine Arts in June. “We’re not competitive,” he says. “We really feed off one another.””