One day while reading the New York Times, Sara Sosnowy came across an illustration of a deep red curtain that struck her; the realization of its potential as an image led her to scour history books of Dutch Master paintings, leading to the lush greens Hans Holbein's The Ambassadors. The resulting Red Curtain (2012) and Holbein Curtain (2013) appear in her new solo show at Lesley Heller Workspace, up through July 3, and define the kinds of intellectual rabbit holes she follows to realize each work.
Blue Curtain, (2012)
For years, Sosnowy has used color photography in the New York Times as a jumping-off point for a painting. Blue Dior Gown also started as an image from the Times that Sosnowy folded over and recreated in an abstracted form—and then painted again in pink and gold.
Sosnowy describes her "Ribbon Gowns" series as "evolv[ing]" out of the concerns of her earlier "Ribbons" series—inspired by the ribbons that decorate her studio—and her works based on gowns and curtains. The results are huge, vivid, semi-abstract canvases that seem to ripple, conjuring an impression of some sort of living, breathing creature—perhaps even more so than their original inspiration. Sosnowy says the ambiguities are welcome.
"Ribbon Gowns" series
Ribbon Gown 2 (Slim), (2012)
I spoke to Sosnowy on the phone the day before her show while she toured the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens, where she was taking pictures for potential new works. A blue spruce tree had transfixed her in particular—her newest show includes many renderings of flora, such as the painting Purple Flower and her “Hydrangea” series, albeit depicted so close-up that their source isn’t immediately clear. “For example this tree image, it will probably end up in my work way more abstracted,” Sosnowy said. “This tree popped out at me and we’ll see where it pops up again in the future. I live among all these objects, whether it's a painting at the Met or a leaf in the park.”