For his first solo exhibition with Kayne Griffin Corcoran, Aaron Sandnes will exhibit two new bodies of work, comprised of painting and sculpture. The exhibition, titled This Hollowed Ground, continues Sandnes’ investigation into the intertwined relationship between authority, anti-heroes, violence, and anarchy.
“[...] A news cutting reporting a conversation said to have taken place between Charles, Prince of Whales [sic], and a badly burned soldier who had returned from the Falklands: “Get well soon,” the Prince said. And the heroic soldier replied, ‘Yes sir, I will.’”
This Hollowed Ground takes the shape of a satirical memorial, highlighting the complicated philosophical contentions between defense and damage from a war-based standpoint. Sandnes uses satire as an optimistic tool to consider the hardness of alienation and the dilemmas of a society after the death of ideology. Monochrome paintings hang solemnly on the walls like staggered soldiers, aligning in a ceremonial burial. Black nickel plated brass roses are scattered throughout the gallery, resembling covered graves of the deceased or the acclamatory aftermath of an audience throwing roses at curtain call—a duality the artist intentionally plays with to draw attention to perspective shifts.
In his series Death Marks the Spot, Aaron Sandnes creates monochromatic paintings with reductive marks on similarly sized panels. Each composition contains two layers of automotive paint, identical in color with different levels of gloss. Sandnes uses color pointedly; the color is coded from various known hyper cars, super cars and sport cars—man made machines meant to go fast. There is a foreshortening that happens between the glossy ground layer of paint and the four masked-out triangles that sit atop in a matte finish. The ratio of each triangle is reminiscent of folded American flags given to families of military soldiers killed in action. The four triangles of each painting are arranged to reveal the form of an X. Both a formal and political gesture, the punctuation conflates the suggestion of the folded flag with anarchism’s empirical symbol.
The black rose installation continues Sandnes’ thread of anarchic symbols positioned against highly charged nationalistic tropes. Focusing on symbolic burial ceremonies and flowers used as a gesture of laudatory and honor, Sandnes continues to draw our attention to the hollow ground of war and organized political sanctions via doctrines, beliefs, and rituals. In this exhibition, by collating commemoration and aggression, the artist foregrounds the complexities of the nationalist fight.
Aaron Sandnes (b. 1980) lives and works in Los Angeles. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in Studio Art from U.C. Irvine in 2003 and a Master of Fine Arts from Cal Arts in 2007. In his interdisciplinary practice, Sandnes explores technological and social conditions leading towards alienation. Embracing the anti-hero, Sandnes’ work bares weighty consideration of the body and its relationship to time, distance and power. Selected recent exhibitions include: 2008 California Biennial, Estación Tijuana, Tijuana, Mexico; CRIMINAL: Art & Criminal Justice in America, Fine Arts Gallery, San Francisco; Desire Armed, at LA><ART, Los Angeles, consisting of a series of portraits of the members of La Bande à Bonnot, an early-20th-century French criminal anarchist group, rendered only by using his fingerprints and fingerprint-dusting graphite.
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