Robert Sean Coons

[caption id="attachment_1919" align="alignnone" width="577"]Robert Sean Coons, Very Coy, 2008. Oil on canvas. Courtesy of the artist. [/caption]

Robert Sean Coons’ oil paintings comment on the paradoxes that lie in the subliminal areas of the human mind: love and war or beauty and obscenity. When approached head-on, the canvases appear to be simply paintings of World War II planes, koi fish, or butterflies in a repeated motif. When you move to one side, however, you see that erotic images actually lie underneath the seemingly straightforward frontal images: a woman performing fellatio, two women kissing, and so on. “The tough thing is, if the work is successful; no one knows it is,” Coons says with a laugh.

Born and raised in Northern California, Coons received his B.F.A. at The Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California and has had four one-man shows with Robert Berman Gallery. Among Berman’s prominent patrons is the legendary pop artist Ed Ruscha, who owns several Coons originals.

Very Coy (side view), 2008.
Coons explains his process in simple terms. “I’m trying to hide something, so it should be taboo,” he explains. “If I’m hiding a puppy in the background, the question is, ‘why?’ But nudity or erotica in many places is still taboo.”

So why paint in such a fashion? “I paint what turns me on,” he confesses. “I love getting people’s reactions when they realize that there are nude women ‘hiding’ in the background; the emotional reaction is what I want.”