The upstairs annex space at Ochi Projects houses the sketches Sanders used as smaller references for the bigger works downstairs. Smaller versions of the paintings in ink line the room, along with colored-pencil studies, offering clues to the finished product. It’s an encyclopedic insight to the mind of the artist, exemplifying the subconscious drift of drawing while he listened in church. Naturally, ideas and elements of sermons snuck into his images. “Sitting in church, I start to draw a vase and then the drawing presents itself from there, as I add the face, the environment, the symbols and props,” Sanders says. “Like a player on a stage inhabiting different scenes and wearing different costumes.”
Allegorical and Kafkaesque, each work portrays frailty and longing. From work to work, we see vases standing in as protagonists in individual scenes. (As far as who is being represented in the paintings, Sanders isn’t saying.) In the tradition of classic cartoons, the artist gives us moral fables with animated characters who meet their fate immediately: flattened by anvils, thwarted by trompe l’oeil. Their lessons are both entertainment and a warning against folly, the comedy of sin.
Sanders mixes references to both Christianity and art history. The Kiss
(2018) contains allusions to both the betrayal of Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane and to
; it’s a scene of vice featuring a nervous, rusted vase whose thick vine of a tongue unfurls to sample a fresh Negroni. In The Weight
(2017), we see a similarly personified vase—this one a cool
acolyte with a push-broom mustache. He’s giving a thumbs up, even though he’s wrapped in chains. The Table
(2018) nods to the Last Supper, with a picnic table whose contents—golf balls, a cheese wedge, a plated radish—are rendered with a
-level of detail, suspended in flat perspective. Textural details augment the paintings’ themes, with framing devices composed of colorful foam pool noodles or diamond-plated polished aluminum.