Sanya Kantarovsky's paintings show ghastly but delicate subjects that appear to be caught in turmoil, as if submerged in endless reflections about the meaning of existence.Read More
Kantarovsky's subjects appear marked by a will to death. Physically and psychologically at odds with reality, they are left to their own devices on the blank page or set against sombre landscapes that seemingly replicate the insides of their own heads.
This death drive appears evident in Jimmy Page Auto Asphyxiation (2018), in which a young man holds himself up by a cord, or Woe to Wit (2019), where a man in black is coiled in reflection above orange and purple spectres and human skulls.
In Cataract (2019), a bleeding corpse-like man kneels on a sand-white beach as a seagull watches over. With a wrinkled face and a single eye, he clutches his injured arm and looks to viewers with resentment.
Representing all phases in the cycle of life, Kantarovsky's works often show children as symbols of beginnings and innocence being sheltered or manipulated.
Accordingly, Good Host and Curtain (both 2019) show a young faceless figure led to a door from which a malicious hand emerges, or with their vision obstructed by the hand of an adult wearing a sour expression.
Printed on washi paper, figures and landscapes are rendered with sharp contours, as if to emphasise the reality of disillusionment.
Kantarovsky's painted figures are assembled from elements gathered from illustrations, film, and advertising to offer pointed meditations on anxiety and impermanence.
Highlighting the universality of his concerns, Kantarovsky has said of the painting Violet (2016), a portrait of a man sitting on a train with a dog wearing a red cone, 'it's like a moment that never existed but you feel like you've seen before.'
In the watercolour-and-ink painting Rites in Pumps (2020), a red-heel-wearing Rabbi is arched over a dying woman. Partially distorted by the strokes of watercolour and ink, both bodies evoke the elusivity of death and the artifice of the promises of religion.
Just as stark, Uramado (2020) shows a ghostly woman with angular bangs and hollowed eyes looking towards the viewer while behind, a bald man lays flat on the ground with his teeth sunken into a brick.