Ivan Seal

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Ivan Seal
Ivan Seal on the FRAC Auvergne.png
Born1973 (age 49–50)
EducationSheffield Hallam University, 1992–1995
Occupation(s)Painter and Experimental Musician
Years active2006–present
Known forProducing album covers for musician James Leyland Kirby

Ivan Seal (born 1973) is an English painter and sound artist who specializes in surreal and abstract works centered around concepts of memory and the creation of imagined objects.[1] He is best known for his collaborations with electronic musician James Leyland Kirby, also known as The Caretaker, creating artwork for the critically acclaimed albums: An Empty Bliss Beyond This World and the six part album series Everywhere at the End of Time, both of which examine themes of memory loss through the long-term mental decay brought about by dementia.[2]

Nopossibiseallityarv leevin (2019), a painting showcasing Seal's abstract art, as well as the names of his paintings.[3]


Early life[edit]

Ivan Seal was born in Stockport, U.K. on an unknown date in 1973. Little is known about Seal's early life aside from attending Sheffield Hallam University from 1992 to 1995, during which Seal began to experiment with creating art installations using ambient music as a medium.[2][4] During this period, Seal became close friends with another experimental musician from Stockport, James Leyland Kirby, who was creating music under the name "V/Vm".[5] At some point following his studies, Seal moved to Berlin, Germany, where he currently resides.


Seal's first known exhibition was as a part of the 2006 "Anonymous" exhibition at the Schirn Kunsthalle in Frankfurt, Germany, in which he was one of 11 anonymous artists featured.[6] Through the years between 2006 and 2010, Seal's ambient music installations and paintings were featured within group and solo exhibitions throughout the Berlin art scene.[7]

Ivan Seal held his first major solo exhibition "personality disorders" at the Carl Freedman Gallery in London starting in May 2011.[7] Following his initial exhibition, Seal returned to showcase his works at the Carl Freedman Gallery in London in 2013, 2015, and 2021.[7] Alongside these semi-regular exhibitions at the Carl Freedman Gallery in London, Seal's works have been exhibited in galleries across Europe[8] and the United States.[7]

Collaborations with James Leyland Kirby[edit]

In June 2011, James Leyland Kirby released his breakthrough album An Empty Bliss Beyond This World which featured Seal's 2010 work "happy in spite" as the album cover, giving both artists a large boost in popularity due to the critical acclaim for the album.[5] Seal's art had been previously used by James Leyland Kirby for Persistent Repetition of Phrases, released in 2008, but the usage of "happy in spite" for An Empty Bliss Beyond This World resulted in a continued collaborative relationship between the two artists. In 2012, Seal's artwork was once again used by Kirby as the album cover for the soundtrack to Grant Gee's film Patience (After Sebald).[9]

Ivan Seal and James Leyland Kirby's relationship is most well known due to the album artwork Seal created for Everywhere at the End of Time, a six-part album series released throughout 2016 to 2019 which was meant to musically emulate the mental decay caused by dementia and Alzheimer's disease.[5]


  1. ^ "Artist of the week 141: Ivan Seal". the Guardian. 2 June 2011. Retrieved 17 October 2022.
  2. ^ a b Tan, Declan (10 March 2018). "The Noise In-Between: An Interview With Ivan Seal". The Quietus. Retrieved 15 October 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  3. ^ Battaglia, Andy (14 November 2019). "In Abandoned 14th-Century Building in Poland, a Painting Show Where the Art Aims to Disappear". ARTnews. Archived from the original on 21 April 2021. Retrieved 8 April 2021.
  4. ^ "Ivan Seal: White Noise - The Wire". The Wire Magazine - Adventures In Modern Music. Retrieved 17 October 2022.
  5. ^ a b c "Interview: James Kirby (The Caretaker)". Tiny Mix Tapes. Retrieved 17 October 2022.
  6. ^ "ANONYMOUS". SCHIRN KUNSTHALLE FRANKFURT. 31 October 2006. Retrieved 17 October 2022.
  7. ^ a b c d "Carl Freedman Gallery". Carl Freedman Gallery. Retrieved 17 October 2022.
  8. ^ "I wake up fresh and rested most mornings, Allouche Benias Gallery". Allouche Benias Gallery. 17 December 2022.
  9. ^ "The Caretaker - Patience (After Sebald)". brainwashed.com. Retrieved 17 October 2022.

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