Sandy Sokoloff: Emanation

March 9 - June 16, 2019

Contemplating Sandy Sokoloff’s large-scale, vibrantly hued paintings brings back the childhood thoughts and feelings I had when peering into the opposing mirrors of double medicine cabinets—a sense of awe and wonder at the enormity of a universe with no edges or boundaries. The central animating concepts behind those sensations, infinity and its twin, eternity, slide between the physical and the metaphysical.

To represent what is unseen yet fully present is Sokoloff’s principal creative endeavor. He explains, “I’m a painter; I push paint around. When I began this series, I was just trying to make a good painting. It wasn’t until later that I came across a reference to the Kabbalah and its teachings about the relationship between G–d and the mortal, finite universe that I thought, Yes, that’s what I’m trying to do.”

The first two paintings in Emanation establish the structural elements that underpin the entire series: a central orb flanked by vertical panels, with small triangles marrying the interior edges of each panel to the sphere. Owing much to the Op-Art movement of the 1960s, these two paintings are exuberant, almost trippy retinal extravaganzas—a collision of Genesis and the Big Bang. They are the inchoate beginnings of an artistic breakthrough. Once Sokoloff finds his voice, the subsequent paintings embody the refined realization of his artistic quest.

Sokoloff creates visual and spiritual energy through a lively arrangement of shapes, gestures, and colors that activate physiological and emotional responses. His paintings plumb the possibilities of optics, philosophy, and theology, and open a space to contemplate the ineffable.

— Mara Williams, Chief Curator

Although I am not an observant Jew, I have been strongly influenced by my cultural heritage. As a child I loved to draw, and early on my grandfather told me, “A Jew may never create an image of G-d.” Still, the Kabbalah describes Sephirot as the manifestations of G-d that allow Him to appear in both the metaphysical and physical universes. Investigating the paradox of an image that both appears and does not appear gives impetus to my work.

From the 1970s through the early 1990s, my work was exhibited in New York and Boston. My last exhibition was in 1993, after which I withdrew from the art world to focus on the work itself.

— Sandy Sokoloff