The Visionary Paintings of Sean Jefferson

Date From
Date To

An Exhibition of New Paintings by the British visionary artist Sean Jefferson, accompanied by a 64 page fully illustrated catalogue with text by curator and writer David Boyd-Haycock and writing from the Artist expanding on his subject matter. Sean Jefferson’s paintings are unlike anything previously shown at Messum’s – indeed, it might be argued they are quite unlike any thing any contemporary British artist is currently exhibiting. Immediately striking, wholly unforgettable, they’re an extraordinary combination of literary and artistic influences and experiences that have evolved over his past thirty-five years as a professional artist. Born in south-east London in 1957, Jefferson studied Microbiology at Imperial College, London, where he developed both his observational skills and his draughtsmanship making careful records of plants and microbiological specimens. Whilst it was the tea-time TV publicity surrounding the death of German surrealist Max Ernst in 1976 that inspired him to become an artist, it is the earlier tradition of nineteenth-century British visionary art that is evoked in his paintings: William Blake, Samuel Palmer, Richard Dadd, G.F. Watts, the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, Symbolism and Art Nouveau all have their place. But this is combined with a fascination with magic, folklore and spiritualism, and an early love of the art work for LP album sleeves: from Peter Blake’s cover for The Beatles’ ‘Sgt. Pepper’ to Roger Dean’s psychedelic artwork for the likes of Yes. After periods living and working in Amsterdam and Cornwall – where he exhibited alongside the Brotherhood of Ruralists – Jefferson has since lived near Shoreham, Kent, where Samuel Palmer painted his early visionary paintings. He has exhibited widely in the UK, Europe and Russia, but this will be his first major solo show in over twenty years.
Jefferson explains that all the works for this forthcoming exhibition have been completed since May 2019, and represent ‘an attempt to get back into the mindset in which I set out to become a professional artist.’ The paintings evoke what he calls ‘an obsessive need to explore and attempt to comprehend the Universe and everything in it.’ They are ‘infused with a mix of Folk Revivalism, the Occult and Art Nouveau mixed with a fading Psychedelia, long hair and outrageously large Bellbottoms ...