Sanya Kantarovsky’s new exhibition of paintings at Luhring Augustine is titled On Them. It is his first solo exhibition with the gallery.
Jason Rosenfeld (Rail): Much of the work that you’ve done in the past has been multimedia, involving different kinds of installations and modes of hanging works and playing with the visibility above and beyond and around paintings and sculpture. So how did you approach this show of only paintings?
Sanya Kantarovsky: When I was in graduate school in Los Angeles, when my work started congealing into something worthwhile, I was heavily invested in a type of practice that positions painting in contingency with other things, and makes it part of a mise en scène. I was very much into the work of Lucy McKenzie and Paulina Olowska—which I still am—and people like Mike Kelley and William Levitt, who created environments, and I was interested in doing that. It took me a few years to understand that there was something counterintuitive in trying to constantly complicate the instance of the exhibition, because the paintings always ended up resisting this type of treatment. And this also restricted the degree of indulgence that I could have with the paintings themselves. So then these different interests started to separate. Rather than trying to create scenarios, I started working on projects separately and not necessarily trying to force them together in exhibitions. Ultimately, everything always revolves around painting in my practice. It has always been my biggest interest and challenge. So the last show I did in New York, Allergies, at Casey Kaplan, was five years ago and in the course of those five years a lot of different things happened. Since the majority of the work has unfolded in Europe, I wanted to bring some of the things I’ve developed outside of New York back to New York, and painting seemed like the most solid, cogent way to do that.
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