Sean Cain’s newest exhibition features delicate and mysterious oil paintings of lush cloth drapes, suspended or floating in rich, quiet landscapes. Cain has long been known for his nuanced and surreal paintings of classically inspired figures placed in ambiguous settings. In recent years, those figures have been draped and increasingly obscured from view, emphasizing a sense of the unknown or unknowable. With this show, the figure has disappeared, and may or may not be hidden by the fall of drapery that seems to possess an identity all its own. These expressive yet deeply ambiguous forms, placed in the midst of land, sky, or sea, provoke strong emotional responses or prompt questions and uncertainty on the part of the viewer. Cain’s interest in drapery is part of a long tradition of images of drapery in art history ranging from the ancient Greeks to contemporary design, with the extent of the figure it obscures or exposes changing according to cultural norms. The surreal context of Cain’s latest paintings creates a unique tension and may compel viewers to examine their own visceral responses to his work.
A graduate of the Pacific Northwest College of Art in 1994, Sean Cain also studied at the Art Institute of Chicago. Cain has been in numerous exhibitions at the Laura Russo Gallery. His work has been included in group exhibitions at the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art, The Art Gym at Marylhurst University, and the Portland Art Museum, in Oregon.