Magazine article Artforum International

Jessica Sanders: Kansas

Magazine article Artforum International

Jessica Sanders: Kansas

Article excerpt

Jessica Sanders

KANSAS

A longtime fan of beeswax owing to its gooey organic mutability, Jessica Sanders exercised admirable restraint with the potentially messy material in her recent exhibition "Ambiguous Warmth." Her first solo appearance at this relocated gallery, the show featured just two entries from the Brooklyn artist's ongoing "Saturation" series, 2013-, of wax-infused linen works, and in neither case was the material's identity immediately apparent. Hung close together side by side, the pair of large, painterly works faced off against eight small wall-mounted white porcelain sculptures. The first impression created by this arrangement was one of quiet stillness, but as the genesis and makeup of the works became clear, that sense of stasis gave way to an affecting portrait of incremental change--of creeping, seeping entropy.

In both Saturation AW2 and Saturation AW6 (all works 2015), fin-shaped areas of wax protrude from the panel's left and right, leaving its central field unmarked. The substance tints the area it covers a soft brownish-yellow, rendering the fabric semitranslucent while sealing its pores. Wax also spills slightly over the edges of the panel, gathering in crenellated ridges. The effect is distinctly post-painterly, recalling the work of artists from Morris Louis to Ian Davenport; and corporeal too, an association subtly underscored by Sanders's choice of lightweight suiting linen as a support. Gravity and chance play key roles in determining the composition of such works, though these forces are of course kicked into action by the artist's initial effort. The "Saturation" works are thus at once the results of a predetermined plan and records of unrepeatable events.

While beeswax has a storied history as an art material--think lost-wax casting, encaustic painting--and has been identified with numerous artists, from Marie Tussaud to Joseph Beuys, it takes on new resonance today owing to the incompletely understood (though likely pesticide-linked) decline in honeybee numbers. …

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