Artist: Sanya Kantarovsky
Venue: Altman Siegle, San Francisco
Exhibition Title: Monday’s Dirty Light
Date: September 12 – November 2, 2013
Full gallery of images, press release and link available after the jump.
Images courtesy of Altman Siegel, San Francisco
That generation’s dream, aviled
In the mud, in Monday’s dirty light
– Wallace Stevens, The Man with the Blue Guitar, 1936
Here is the rise, the fall, the labor, the leisure. The stage for all this is the cramped rectangle whose perimeter keeps us from getting carried away. Our protagonist is specific, although his identity is open to speculation. In some cases he’s aging and alive and in others young and dead, a porcelain tchotchke on a pedestal. He is a man uncomfortably suspended in an antagonistic relationship between his hungry body and his socialized personality, his nightly freedom and daily ennui. We encounter him in a dirty, mundane, quotidian light.
Much like our protagonist’s lonesome conflict, the task of pushing paint around in the studio is a hermitic activity rife with self-scrutiny and painterly indulgences. The latter, in all their periodized effete glory, perform eloquent descriptions of our affected protagonist. The resulting pictures are tethered to both the private artist and the collective audience, dimming the distinction between mannerism and sincerity.
The structure of the show takes on the logic of a television series, a concept rap album or a biopic. Our protagonist is marooned in his habitat, compressed within the murky surfaces of paintings, four of which hang like a sequence of torn out pages. We follow him as he weaves in and out of consciousness, abstraction, alone-ness, self-awareness, lethargy and anxiety. Some scenarios skirt suicidal moments or purported sexual failure, while others leave us in the dark. Two smaller paintings with mirrored compositions hang in a tête-à- tête on a separate wall. White rectangles housing seated figures float on top of ornamental backdrops that depict archetypes of nature and industry. The subjective interior is measured against the mannered exterior, while the withdrawn protagonist is permanently situated somewhere between solitude and companionship. In a separate room, a porcelain bust of the young protagonist brings to mind death masks and Soviet – era porcelain figurines. A few framed watercolors hang nearby, suggesting airy youthful memories.
Sour fruit, beards, pockmarked buildings, cobalt birds, empty windows and television antennae are all recent additions to the artist’s palette of motifs. The haptic mixes with the gustatory, the celestial with the soiled, the saturated with the anemic. On these soupy terms, our vivid protagonist forfeits from a stalemate between the artist, his work, and its audience, leaving nothing behind but a trail of paint.