Raised amid the car culture of Southern California, Sandnes is well-versed in the use and symbolism of automotive paint. For “Death Marks the Spot,” he created 13 monochrome panels using acrylic and car paint on wood, selecting his glossy colors from a palette used for super-fast cars (identified in the titles). Each work consists of an “X” in the middle of the panel, created at the intersection of four abutting triangles. The triangular shapes bring to mind the folded American flags that are given to families of fallen soldiers, while the “X,” of course, is, like the black rose, a symbol of anarchy.
The exhibition is full of this kind of complex symbolism. The flowers scattered on the ground invoke roses thrown on stage—a nod toward the performative nature of both heroism and anarchism—and the references to famous fast cars (Bugatti, Corvette), adds an intriguing dose of materialism, self-image, and economics into the mix. Glossy, colorful, and tantalizingly perfect, the surfaces of these paintings are red herrings. The real ideas lie beneath, a bit out of grasp, ready to smash the system from the inside.