Sebastian Picker

When: March 1-23 2013

The main subject in Sebastian Picker’s work is a small, chubby man with a bald head. On various canvases, he goes about his day taking on both the mundane and the magical: He prostrates himself before corporate power in the form of a disembodied three-piece suit; he carries a giant smiley face on his back, referencing the Atlas myth. Picker paints his stylized protagonist at a tiny scale within his canvases, and there is something distinctly voyeuristic about the way that the viewer nearly always sees the little man from behind or from high above. The implication here is that he is under constant surveillance, and it’s the viewers who are implicated in the intrusion. Picker mixes creepy and cute in a way similar to Colombian painter Fernando Botero: Picker’s roly-poly figure flirts with being as fleshy as Botero’s rotund characters, and Picker’s work addresses sociopolitical ideas as Botero’s figures raise uncomfortable questions about class and power. Picker exiled himself from his home country of Chile during the dictatorial rule of Augusto Pinochet, and he sends up social and political conformity with his hapless little hero, but the absurdity is energized with enough paranoia to push the comedy a little toward the dark side. On the whole, Picker’s images are highly illustrative, and you could imagine them inhabiting a dystopian graphic novel about a brave clerk who begins to understand that he’s compliant in his own slavery. Think Dilbert penned by Philip K. Dick.

Joe Nolan

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