Eric Sanders: Abstractions

In the language of contemporary art, there are marks that are made with assertive attention, and forms that seem to generate themselves from the primordial. There are evocative colors found in nature, and further palettes that spring directly from the imagination. There’s architectonic geometry and also more fractal paths and patterns; some gestures are tethered to the innate physical behavior of the artist’s materials, while others are directed by a human psyche of experience, ideas, and emotions. The liveliest abstraction is fluent across such continuums, the better to facilitate a more perfect self-expression.

Eric Sanders is but a few years into a dedicated and prolific rediscovery of his love for art-making, but his path through art history and atelier alchemy is steadily yielding remarkable results. Sanders’ polyglot practice is built equally on careful material experimentation in the studio and his appreciation and attentive connoisseurship for the great painters of 20th century art, top of mind across the decades. His consciousness, bookshelves, and in some cases his walls are filled with sources of inspiration from a 20th-century pantheon that includes figures like Sam Francis, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Salvador Dali, Joan Mitchell, Willem de Kooning, Pablo Picasso, Cy Twombly, and Robert Rauschenberg.

In fact many of Sanders’ titled series reflect this soulful, hybrid homage. But more often, the nomenclature refers to a personal phenomenology of experiences, translated through the operations of a modern painting studio into enduring objects, capturing fleeting moments in fixed works of art. One series of complex, geological formations is named for the influence of painter Anna Carll on Sanders’ tastes, another for the “Reservoir” whose serial imagery gathers a diverse family of chromatic arrangements through a central formal motif, and so on.

As Sanders dips and culls the vast visual archive of abstraction, his genome of shapes and layers in mixed and pure color gets made with brushes, dabs, pours, and drags. Occasionally collage of paper and textured swatches augment and disrupt the surfaces. He achieves radiant advancement and teases out pictorial space through the pigments’ own physical and chemical interactions, which result in myriad surface variations. Particular ways that colors as Sanders deploys them blend and streak into geological topography and striation enhance both the elements of brushwork and the organic sensibility.

There’s a particular yellow Sanders favors, and a fearlessness about difficult hues like purple, pink, and orange. Often Sanders will use multiple materials such as ink-based pigments or craquelure treatments, also moving between analog and digital -- frequently within the bounds of single works. From vibrant, densely detailed passages to nuanced color-field grounds, and from hairline linework to robust gesturalism, Sanders directs the elements toward the focused manifestation of a given idea, even as he remains flexibly responsive to the momentum of his materials. Robert Rauschenberg’s statement, “Curiosity is the main energy” is quite instructive for illuminating this artist’s work. 

-- Shana Nys Dambrot