Studio Visit: Tom Sanford

Tom Sanford had me over to his spacious basement studio in Tribeca this past Saturday.  I became aware of Sanford’s work in 2008 when I saw his show “Mr. Hangover” at Leo Koenig, Inc.  Tom’s main project is capturing our rapid-fire digital culture in the slow language of painting.  If it’s in the news – it’s likely fodder for his paintings.  When we watch TV, a pop star’s recent public tantrum is covered with the same attention as the death count in a war zone.  Tom doesn’t try to adjust the playing field between pop culture and world events – he conflates them.  But when that happens in a painting the dissonance is in your face in a way that it isn’t on TV.  For instance, in a new large-scale painting, Bill Murray (as a red capped Steve Zissou from The Life Aquatic) is being held at gun point by pirates off the coast of Somalia.  It’s inexplicably poignant – maybe because I care about the character from a movie?  Sanford speaks eloquently about how painting is slow media, and how we’re all enmeshed in fast media – he has a sign up in his studio that sums it up as “The worse the better.”

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