Sean Sprague is a visual artist from Toronto. He is currently an MFA candidate at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA).
Sprague's practice has been keenly aware of the cusp that photography occupies between the real and the artificial. It is this tension many people within the photography field find most problematic and it is this area his practice finds most interesting. The photographic medium’s preoccupation in distinguishing itself has much to do with this tension. and the ubiquity of images in the world further contributes to this predicament. These concerns led Sprague to approach his work not only from the context of a photographic tradition, but from a broader pictorial one. This prompted the development of his current methodology, evolving Sprague's process into one that emphasizes the making of a picture.
In 2011 Sprague began creating large-scale colour photographic tableaus are created following much research and planning. The production of an artwork includes precisely lighting and composing a kind of mise en scène. When present, figures are directed to re-enact tasks from their everyday life, or perform a role. If a scenario does not allow for direction, it is imparted afterwards by selecting a particular gesture from the numerous images captured. Compositions are explicitly arranged to present figures absorbed in their action. The entire scope of a scene is photographed in thousands of close-up pieces, focusing on various points of the composition. After a photography session is complete, the materials are selected, edited, and meticulously combined to digitally construct each work. A work’s scale and completeness in detail is achieved through this process and results in a flattening pictorial effect emphasizing a picture’s two-dimensional nature. There is no original negative. No original image. The picture only becomes complete when all the chosen elements are brought together and seamed.
Ontario Arts Council Emerging Visual Artist Grant 2016
PDN Photo Annual 2015
American Photography #31
The Magenta Foundation's Flash Forward 2015
American Photography #29
The Wenner-Gren Foundation Grant 2013
Toronto Arts Council Emerging Visual Artist Grant 2012
American Photography #27
The Magenta Foundation's Flash Forward 2011
Du Maurier Fine Arts Grant
Faculty of the Ontario College of Art & Design Award
The Globe & Mail, IBM, ING Direct, Maclean’s, Mazda, Molson Coors, Nike, Sportsnet, University of Toronto, Volkswagen, Walmart, Wiser’s