Press Release


he work of Sandra Scolnik continues to explore an allegorical form of self-portraiture. The mise en scène, framed within the edges of her typically modest-sized paintings, portray the changing scenes of an ongoing drama where her self-contained narratives linger in and out of the surreal and the absurd. The figures seem to cross the boundaries of their own physical limits and the associations with their surroundings, where decorative ornaments can become nipples and the bed sheets drawn into a figure’s skirt. The psychological and the corporeal become interchangeable and the sexual clearly present but not without a hint ofthe sinister. It is a realm of defined power and power relations, of ritualized practice and submission; the servile and the served, the nude and the lavishly clothed. The artist is among the cast of players. In the past she embodied every figure in the scene, as if cloned in multipart; now she is set amongst others that have a separate but familial presence. These new works offer scenes inspired by Sienese paintings of the 15th and 16th century which are familiar at first glance; simple interiors and sparse landscapes that might resemble the painted backdrops of forgotten operettas at times, but always painted with a refined and delicate language that can be dark and humorous in the same instance. There is a broad range of historical reference that is combined to make these pictures. Films by Peter Greenaway come to mind with a similar historically stylized fetishism. Scolnik has her own symbolic dialect of objects not unlike that used in the Northern Renaissance. Robert Campin’s (1375-1444) Annunciation shares some common ground, in which there seems a similar language in its itemized symbolism of objects surrounding the virgin mother, though perhaps not as simply translated are Scolnik’s; often in multiples are such items as women’s shoes, handbags, and exotic birds scattered throughout the picture as if symbolic in their quantity like primitive hieroglyphs or perhaps in the repetitive act of painting them.