A Window into the Foreboding World of Sayre Gomez’s Dark Paintings

Artsy Editorial
Nov 11, 2014 4:13PM

In Sayre Gomez’s new exhibition “I’m different II” at Parisa Kind, the artist combines formal design elements with a sense of foreboding and the unknown. Gomez’s evocative paintings are aesthetically consistent, but his elaborations on them are ever-changing. In effect, the works feel mutable and their impact differs piece to piece, even when they appear very similar. 

In Untitled Painting in White With Window Motif (02) (2014), a powerful gust of pigment moves over the canvas, melting into contusions and splotches of black against a neutral background, like a violent swathe of tie-dye. This is repeated to slightly different effect in Untitled Painting in White With Window Motif (01) (2014), which displays more watery blotches and bull’s-eye formations of pigment. In both these works, the crisp geometry of a window frame sharply contrasts with its abstract background. Untitled Painting in Blue With Window Motiv (2014) continues the style with a splotched background in deep ink-blue and black, the window only a slightly lighter blue, so that it almost bleeds into the rest of the painting. The effect of the layered blue paintings is more intense than that of his black-and-white works; the blue paintings are easier to be lured into, whereas the latter ones seem to block the viewer out through the sharp contrast of their gridded motifs. There’s something uneasy about these images—perhaps in the clash between the formless, bold backgrounds and the severe lines making up the window. The rigid form of the windows feels like an oppressive imposition on the rampant patterning behind it. 

Gomez’s window theme continues in his “Thief”paintings, centering around one ominous set of white-gloved hands lifting a window from its sill. The hands reach out from the inside, suggesting the crime has already been committed. The image is spooky and difficult to place in terms of time or cultural context—it’s reminiscent of a pulp horror comic from the ’80s or the notably eerie moments in early Disney films; in fact, Gomez lifted the image from Facebook. Since 2011, the “Thief” series has evolved and its motif has been altered in many ways: in one, the image appears upside down, in another the hands are stretched and distorted, and in the work featured in his exhibition at Parisa Kind, the picture is mirrored and bathed in dusky purple. Each subtle change deeply alters the tone and atmosphere of the painting. 

—Makiko Wholey 

I’m Different II” is on view at Parisa Kind, Frankfurt, Nov. 14–Dec. 20, 2014. 

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Artsy Editorial