Roger Sandes: Constellations

September 1, 2017 - January 8, 2018

The colorful, rigorously patterned paintings of Roger Sandes, featuring flora, fauna, and art historical references, fall squarely within the Pattern & Decoration movement of the 1970s. Reacting against Minimalism, P&D painters found inspiration sources considered to be minor arts—china, wallpaper, and fabric design.

Borrowing freely from both the decorative and the fine arts, Sandes breaks new ground, creating richly nuanced, unique works of art. A butterfly border is not a direct rendering from nature, but a stylized variant of an exquisite china plate. An African mask is not a literal representation of the object, but a mask filtered through Picasso or Brancusi. Flowers and figures might evoke nature, wallpaper, folk art, or Matisse. Half the fun of viewing a Sandes work is tracing where his mind and eye have traveled in making the painting.

Sandes’s newest paintings are kaleidoscopic abstractions that he has made from images in his existing works. They are at once symmetrical and asymmetrical, figurative and abstract, ebullient and quiet. Each of these abstract “constellations”—especially when one or more is clustered around the painting from which it originated—offers an opportunity to explore Sandes’s creative process, and to reflect on a universe of meaning.

— Mara Williams, Chief Curator

Making art is my purpose in life. It’s always in my imagination, waiting for realization. For 50 years I have produced figurative works on nature-based, multicultural, and art historical themes. I incorporate symbols of life and fertility—icons integral to art in all cultures since primitive times—highlighting their natural beauty and form. I also integrate elements of modern and folk art, nature and artifact. Balancing the simple and the complex, I hope to create objects of contemplation that both attract the eye immediately and reward subsequent, deeper examination.

For this exhibit, I used the kaleidoscope camera in iPad’s Photo Booth to deconstruct faces, figures, flora, and fauna from some of my paintings. Out of many kaleidoscopic fragments from each image, I selected two or three similar ones and reconstructed them as an abstract pattern—a “constellation” of forms—usually as a diptych or triptych. Traces of the original images can be detected in the new, abstract works, and vice versa. When the original and the reconstructions are shown together, another constellation is created. The kaleidoscopic abstracts reinterpret the colors and shapes of the original images, and each constellation creates a sensation of movement for the viewer’s eye to follow.

— Roger Sandes


Photo Gallery