I know that we have more than a few listeners/readers based in Europe, and if you happen to be hanging out in Copenhagen this weekend, make sure to check out Bad at Sports’ Tom Sanford’s latest paintings at the opening for his new solo show at Gallery Poulson. (Sidebar to Mr. Sanford: when the eff are you gonna show in Chicago, so I can check your work out up close and personal-like??). Based on the images Tom sent me, this show looks hot. Below you’ll find a few words from the artist that describe the show, an accompanying press blurbie, and some images to give you a taste of what to expect. The reception is Friday night from 5-8 pm, and the show runs through October 1st, 2011.
“2011 is fast, painting is slow. I am interested in history, but I work in a post-historical period. I make paintings about the time I live in. By the time I finish the paintings, their subjects are history. I am an American, living at the end of the American Century. Things are happening all the time. I learn about these things on the radio, on television, on the internet, on Twitter. The media is my muse, I paint by the light of my computer. I make paintings about the things that interest me. I wish I had time to paint more things, but art is slow and the world is fast.” – Tom Sanford, 2011
For his first solo exhibition at Gallery Poulsen, Tom Sanford’s work continues to reflect the artist’s ambivalent fascination with a culture that is driven by the 24-hour news cycle, hungry for scandal and obsessed with celebrity. Sanford’s paintings use a variety of genres to present the villains and victims, the tragedies and triumphs of the moment. The story of the hijacked Mersk Alabama and the rescue of Captain Richard Phillips by the USS Bainbridge are presented as a history painting akin to Géricault’s Raft of the Medusa. The recently deceased British rock bad girl, Amy Winehouse, is painted as an icon to be venerated by her fans. The seamy exploits of anti-heros Charlie Sheen and Silvio Berlusconi are painted in a garish, yet beautiful tableaux; these paintings are part renaissance painting, part low brow political cartoon. Sanford’s work is hybridized and bastardized like the culture it emerges from.
In the four Custom Mao paintings, Sanford shifts genres to the conceptual. Sanford takes advantage of globalization in his production by outsourcing a large part of the labor to China, and then adding the intellectual property himself in America. The artist has commissioned Chinese painters to paint copies of the famous state portrait of Mao Zedong, on which Warhol based his 1973 silk screen paintings of Mao. The paintings are then shipped to Sanford’s New York studio, where he “customizes” them by altering the paintings to become cultural archetypes from his western cultural milieu. Through this conceptually driven means of art production, as well as the juxtaposition of eastern and western cultural iconography, the artist comments on the shifting dynamics of global cultural and economic power at the end of the American century.
Tom Sanford works in New York City and has exhibited all over the world, including solo exhibitions at Leo Koenig, Inc. in New York and Galleri Faurschou in Copenhagen. His work has been exhibited at the Cincinnati Center for Contemporary Art, the Chelsea Museum in New York City and the Palazzo delle Arti in Naples, Italy. He is currently preparing for an exhibition in November at Gallery Zidoun in Luxembourg.