BARBARA SANDLER Straight On Till Morning

Barbara Sandler. "The whole story is already over, let's start again," 2011. Oil on paper. 27 × 21 1/4". Courtesy Pavel Zoubok Gallery.

PAVEL ZOUBOK GALLERY | JANUARY 6 – FEBRUARY 4, 2012

With the straightforward formal immediacy of photos from the early 1900s, Barbara Sandler’s handsome young males pose proudly in jacket and tie, in sailor suits, and as boxers, dukes up and at the ready. The paintings are deftly done in a firm illustrational style, using predominantly warm earth tones with touches of subdued red. Various arcane insignias, the words “Post,” “Postcard,” and others, and linear networks, sometimes suggesting constellations, are embedded in the works. These overlaid geometries and the descriptive contours of the figures are incised into the painted surfaces with graphite. Executed on heavy watercolor paper primed for graphite and oil treatment, the paintings have a somewhat leathery material quality, further connoting pictures from the past. The stylized succinctness of Sandler’s rendering also signals our distance in time; many of the works take on the look of old postcards or posters. More than direct representations, these are images of images. Titles for the works, such as “The Whole Story is Already Over, Let’s Start Again” (2011)—taglines from old movies, perhaps—hint at lost narratives. The knowledge that a woman created these decorously homoerotic portraits, overlaying them with not quite decipherable signs, prompts the viewer to speculate about questions beyond the commanding visual presence of Sandler’s paintings.

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Robert Berlind

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