seraphin gallery, philadelphia, art gallery, fine art, contemporary art, rebecca saylor sack
"My paintings are inspired by the tradition of the vanitas still life, and draw from narratives of speculative fantasy and science fiction. I paint from life, assembling structures in the studio of bone and flora. These forms are gleaned for their personal relationships; flowers I have cultivated, and bones I have collected. Color is invoked for visceral effect. Brilliant reds radiate against hues of vibrating purples while electric oranges clash alongside shades of blue. Thick, creamy paint contrasts with luminous transparent passages to create forms that seem to expand and subsume the image. The materiality of paint and vibrant coloring reveals a whimsical quality, which heightens a sense of disorientation and the hallucinatory. My paintings court the extremities of stability and riot, growth and decay."
- Rebecca Saylor Sack
Rebecca Saylor Sack earned her MFA from Tyler School of Art at Temple University and her BFA from The Cooper Union. She is a recipient of the Fleisher Wind Challenge, and the Jacob K. Javits Fellowship from the United States Department of Education. The artist has participated in solo and group exhibitions nationwide, including shows at The University of Delaware, Nicelle Beauchene Gallery (New York, NY), J Cacciola Gallery (New York, NY), Seraphin Gallery (Philadelphia, PA), Jenny Jaskey Gallery (Philadelphia, PA), Fette’s Gallery (Los Angeles, CA), and Silas Marder Gallery (Bridgehampton, NY) and internationally at the Galleria Glance (Torino, Italy) and Donn Roca Gallery (Odense, Denmark). Sack has been a visiting artist and lecturer at multiple national institutions, and is currently a Visiting Assistant Professor at The University of the Arts.
Sunday, March 18, 2012
By Edith Newhall
Published: February 25, 2012
By Todd Keyser
Rebecca Saylor Sack’s solo exhibition, Albatross, features six impressively large abstract paintings in Seraphin Gallery’s front space. Sack is a Philadelphia-based painter who teaches at the University of the Arts. Her paintings have a brooding, churning, Baroque sensibility, enhanced by intense fracturing of circular, oval-like brushstrokes that give way to small and large calligraphic squiggles stretching across the surface.
As the title of the exhibition suggests, Sack’s paintings take us on a voyage into a dangerous mixer of land, water, and air, tossed about and applied effortlessly through her paint handling. In the poetic writings of Shelly and Coleridge, the albatross is a seafaring bird that denotes good or bad luck. The process of making a painting too, can go either way: very well or very badly. The theme of the exhibition underscores Sack’s process as much as the paintings on view.
March 11, 2012
By Alison McMenamin
In the “Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” the albatross is an omen of both good and bad luck. Taking the seafaring bird as its title, Rebecca Saylor Sack’s latest body of work also revels in ambiguity. On view atSeraphin Gallery until March 25, the paintings in Albatross suggest creation and destruction.
While these themes are evident in the artist’s large, titled works, the show also includes small, untitled, material studies using oil bar and spray paint. In the studies, the oil bar is used to add shine and dimensionality to the flat spray paint. These studies are primarily concerned with the interaction of the two materials, but in the exhibition’s large works, the sweeping, bodily gestures used to apply spray paint and oil paint are visible.
The paintings of Albatross are inspired by the surrealist text, “The Solar Anus,” which also focuses on the violence of creation. In each of the large abstractions, landscape imagery is presented in convoluted forms that recall natural disasters. Rebecca Saylor Sack’s largest untitled work lacks a discernible horizon line, making the viewer’s position uncertain. At the center of the composition, there is a spiraling form that resembles a vortex and appears to be pulling each brushstroke toward the center.
The painting’s forest palette of blues, greens, browns, and purples is also used in the work entitled, “Thunder splits the rift where the sun comes in.” In this scene, the spiraling vortex appears again. However, it defies logic by hovering in the tree line above a small body of water.
In “The sea says what the sea says to everyone,” gigantic waves loom ominously in the sky dwarfing the land below. Again, their placement defies logic, and the waves take on a supernatural presence. A cosmic power is also suggested in the work, “Tower,” in which a circular form hovers above the landscape and appears to pulsate with energy.
In “Coldhands” and Baitball,” the scenes are more fantastical and chaotic. These two works also share similar color palettes of energetic blues, greens, yellows, and oranges adding to the feeling of disorder. In “Coldhands,” twisted forms span the landscape, creating a path of destruction. A baitball is a formation used by a school of small fish to appear larger. A similarly clustered form also appears in the painting of the same name. Engulfed in the chaotic scene, the baitball becomes a metaphor for the individual’s struggle in nature.
The nine works in Albatross highlight Rebecca Saylor Sack’s skill as a painter and her interest in process. The poetry and literature that serve as her inspiration are evidence of an artist thinking about more than painterly concerns. But even at nine images, some of the works become repetitive.