Boston Globe


SANDRA SCOLNIK At: the Cartin Collection

Studies in identity


The painter Sandra Scolnik is every character in her small, unnerving paintings at the Cartin Collection @ Ars Libri. Scolnik paints her own face onto bodies in confined interiors, making each scene a psychodrama.

She paints small. “Liz’’ is only 10 inches square, and she’s the only figure in it, standing stiffly in a short dress, holding a cigarette at her side. She stands in a cramped room. Scolnik’s grim face is large, out of proportion to the body it sits on, and indeed to the room. It’s also painted with more modulation, as if it is more real.

“Mimi’’ features two Scolniks, seated in a parlor in their coats and hats, each with a little white dog facing away from her. Most disturbing, a portrait hangs over the mantel behind them, and it, too, shows Scolnik, angry and nearly bursting out of the frame. In these claustrophobic explorations of identity, the ego is oversized, but isn’t everybody’s? Scolnik has painted them in such a way that over time the surroundings will fade to reveal other ones, but the figures will remain static. The nightmare may change, but the mood never will.