Steven Shearer

Published November 6, 2016

The mysteries of teenagedom have provided countless artists with fertile ground for exploration—but none tap into the brutal alienation that comes along with adolescence quite like Canadian artist Steven Shearer, who has said he started making art as a way to be alone. A 20-year retrospective of Shearer’s work opens this month at the Brant Foundation Art Study Center in Greenwich, Connecticut, highlighting a diverse body of paintings, drawings, collages, and poems. The enigmatic artist brings an almost forensic eye to found images and historical references, such as in Sleep II (2015), a triptych made up of culled images of sleeping people. Elsewhere, heavy-metal culture meets Botticelli in his filigreed portraits of long-haired youths, and ’70s heartthrob Leif Garrett is brought to life in multiple collages that seem as devotional as shrines. The foundation’s bucolic isolation feels an eerily apt place to consider the anxiety and angst of Shearer’s work, for, as it shows us, where there is beauty, there is darkness unbidden.