Hammer Biennial at Barnsdall: real time w/ Sarah Cain

Sarah Cain. Music Book, 2008-12. 20 gouache and acrylic paintings on music sheets, bound in a book. Dimensions vary between 13 x 10 in. (33 x 25.4 cm) and 13 x 21 in. (33 x 53.3 cm). Courtesy the artist; Honor Fraser Gallery, Los Angeles; and Anthony Meier Fine Arts, San Francisco. Photo by Joshua White.

I recognize the work as yours immediately. Then – what the heck? A small canvas catches my eye, it seems uncharacteristic in its troweled and concretic looking surface. It is simply painted grey like wet cement. I can see raw canvas, so I know it to be a thin surface, but it looks gouged, as though it were a thick, wet medium. They must be applied, these white plastic quarter-pipes. Or are these wax from candles? Whatever – there is violence in there placement, Sarah, and the knots that you’ve tied – in the photograph of knotted ribbons, around the roll of canvas – these feel as much statements, or better questions, as they do actions taken for a purpose. To tie is to gather, to wrap, to bind as a wound, and to bring support.

Painted blue and edged with yellow threads is a canvas that is tacked to the front wall (artist built, I suppose) and before this painting turns the corner (which it does, and I think of Liz Larner’s “Wrapped Corner for a moment) the color holds my attention; shadows play on it like poetry. A mysterious coin, a gilt chain, an orchid, a beaded thread.

(Floor tiles that you made echo Ry Rocklen’s installation in the center court of the museum.)

Inside the room, among much more (that I have not time to detail) are two circles: one is dark blue outline, painted and complete, the other is stucco or toweling on canvas, is implied, and is completed by my eye (as that eye struggles against the pretty strands of orange-painted canvas looping, and the cruciform “peace” symbol of the curious (and curiously revealed) stretcher bars.

Looking up, I imagine I see you walking away. I cannot believe, nor will I forget how tender this is, and how smart.



An exhibition of Sarah Cain’s work is scheduled for September at Honor Fraser Gallery: http://www.honorfraser.com/

1 Comment

  1. “So ok Geoff, what does poetry look like?” my angel David asked me. Um, well, apologies for making pretentious a wonderful installation. The shadows are nice.

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