ANDREW SENDOR: PAINTINGS, DRAWINGS AND A FILM
November 7, 2015 - April 24, 2016
By NOAH BECKER, NOV. 2015
At times mysterious, at times horrific, you can’t look away from an Andrew Sendor piece. Sendor is a New York based artist represented by Sperone Westwater Gallery. Sendor’s aesthetic is a perfect lightening rod to the history of painting but at the same time his work has that wonderful thing that relates to the history of other mediums such as photography and cinema. To call what he does a "varied practice" would be missing the point. In conversation with Sendor at his Brooklyn studio, I asked a number of questions about his research methods and working process. He is part scientist and part magician was my thought.
The science involved in the technical production of his work includes Sendor’s careful study of tonal values for the production of monochromes. The magic appears when he conjures unspoken truths and mines feelings associated with the abstract quality of human behavior. His paintings and video work are from an involvement with different mediums such as film, photography and art history - a widening of the process of picture making. The ontology expressed in certain kinds of performance art factors into in his complex and multi-dimensional process as well.
Sendor is a figurative artist, with figures as models in dramas, but also the figure as the protagonist in a series of non-linear narratives. Sendor’s narratives have more in common with literature and performance than the history of painting and Samuel Beckett comes to mind in this sense. It was Frank Stella who spoke to me of Beckett when I visited Stella’s studio in upstate New York. Stella credits the repetition found in Beckett as the inspiration for his black paintings of the 1970s. I brought this point up with Sendor and related my Frank Stella stories and Sendor seemed genuinely fascinated by researching Beckett in the future.
Sendor is the bringer of a certain aesthetic in realist painting or traditional figuration if you will. Manet is an artist he speaks of and one can also see traces of other European masters if one looks closely. But as John Currin noted, we will always be North American artists, even if we are interested in the European masters and interested in old paintings.
Sendor’s studio has a perfect organized condition to it, which is why I say he is a scientist of sorts. Sendor’s painting table has many different brushes on it, all propped up in hundreds of jars. I’ve been making my oil paintings with hog bristle brushes but Sendor uses soft brushes with his oil paint. That was surprising to me but he seems to get such even surfaces with the paint in this way. Another wooden table has his paint samples, grey scales on sample papers and diagrams with numeric values that are associated to the tonal areas he uses in his paintings. Tubes of oil paint sit next to Sendor’s palette but these are the self-filling kind, custom blacks and grays, blank on the exterior except for a numeric value written on the tube that coordinates with certain areas of a painting.
In his way Sendor liberates and complicates painting beyond the constraints of old master influenced realism and transforms his painterly interests into contemporary art. WM
Noah Becker is an artist and the publisher and founding editor of Whitehot Magazine. He shows his paintings internationally at museums and galleries. Becker also plays jazz saxophone. Becker's writing has appeared in The Guardian, VICE, Garage, Art in America, Interview Magazine, Canadian Art and the Huffington Post. He has written texts for major artist monographs published by Rizzoli and Hatje Cantz. Becker directed the New York art documentary New York is Now (2010). Becker's new album of original music "Mode For Noah" was released in 2023.
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