1994 January 1
SANDY GARNETT AT THE SACKLER GALLERY, STAMFORD, CT
Sandy Garnett is currently showing his recent series of Neo-Pop portraits at The Palace Theater’s Sackler Gallery in Stamford, Connecticut. A recent graduate of St. Lawrence University in upstate New York, Garnett began this series independent of the University during his senior year in 1991.
The show is composed of eight large oil portraits, six small portraits, and several unrelated works. Garnett paints a form of after-the-fact Pop that strangely manages to key into the contemporary rumblings of our post-Eighties hangover. The paintings are very slick and high gloss finished, well composed, and although clearly influenced by Warhol offer a twist of originality in the formal nature of these portrait studies. Whereas Mr. Warhol glorifies the celebrity in his subjects, Garnett enjoys the process of obscuring the celebrities he has painted by blowing their faces off the canvas. The profile portrait of Chuck Close, an inside remark to a painter who never ‘profiles’, pays homage to an artist Garnett seems more akin than to Warhol. Garnett delights in the primary colors of shapes that when seen from afar come together into the forms that make a face Pop.
Up close, the portrait of Jack Nicholson looks like a Sol Lewitt wall drawing, but from fifteen feet away one can instantly recognize Mr. Nicholson’s trademark mischievous grin, although the canvas holds only a portion of his face. This play-on scale makes the paintings look larger than their already sizeable proportions. I wanted the paintings to keep going like a movie one does not want to end.
The study of abstraction through portraiture seems a solid direction for Garnett, whose work has a smart, cosmopolitan sensibility that respects but does not mimic his current artistic inspirations. This ambitious first body of work suggests that Mr. Garnett keep his sights set on Manhattan, where this show would comfortably hang.
- P. Alexander
P. Alexander is an independent art critic. She lives and works out of New York City.