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Say "tourism" ten times fast and it starts to sound like "terrorism." Just as this word-play will lead you to a certain linguistic dissonance and uncertainty so too will Schandra Singh's paintings take us to a purgatorial space of contrived paradise. Singh's newest collection of paintings depicts portraits of families vacationing at tropical resorts and those who reside in the local towns cum pseudo paradises. And what might at first sound like an innocuous subject matter quickly becomes loaded with tension and visual dynamism in Singh's apt hands. The artist captures what has been referred to as a "pro-capitalism people zoo" by author and cultural theorist Greg Tate. By documenting these individuals suspended in the precarious interstitial state between leisure and anxiety while on holiday, and translating them into large-scale vivid and dynamic paintings, the artist allows for an investigation of the currently dubious sense of world security.
Within the history of figurative painting the choice of subject is always one of certain significance. And with the resurgence of representational painting practices through neo-expressionism, and even more recently with artists such as Neo Rauch and Jenny Saville, an emphasis on irony, satire, and the confluence of the beautiful grotesque has come to the forefront. Singh's larger than life images of tourists and locals lingering in the sun are a smart and well-formulated re-mediation of the Western fetishization of leisure time.
The exhibition is comprised of several large-scale works on linen as well as smaller portraits. Her representation of the human form is striated and fragmented and as she delves into greater detail the image becomes paradoxically more abstract. The result is a beautifully colored, if perhaps unnerving, composition of sunning tourists in their multi-faceted existences. One often finds smaller figures lurking in the nooks and crannies of the images adding to the sense of unrest in the paintings. And, for every inch of minutely detailed surface Singh also gives us passages of untouched linen canvas as a space for contemplation. Greg Tate has referred to Singh's visual taxonomy of Western tourism as "obliquely satirical" and notes that she "wants to whisk us off to Paradise and then make us gasp in horror at the human debris wealth has deposited and left on display in her cold-eyed memory theatre."
In addition to these newest works Singh will, for the first time, exhibit her two most influential early paintings. These include a minutely detailed depiction of the World Trade Towers (painted on canvas that survived her demolished studio opposite the towers) as well as a large painting of America's founding fathers whirling in a rose garden. It was these two earlier works that led Singh to begin her contemplation of the variegated perceptions of personal and communal security and leisure. We hope that you will join us as we explore the progression from these earlier works to the newest incarnation of Singh's fantastically depicted noblesse oblige tourists floating down a lazy river contemplating security and securities.
Born in Suffern, New York, in 1977, Schandra Singh possesses a highly coveted painting pedigree. After completing her Bachelor of Fine Arts (1999) at the Rhode Island School of Design, she went on to receive a Master of Fine Arts in Painting (2006) at Yale University. The artist has exhibited internationally and most notably in the recent "The Empire Strikes Back" exhibition at Saatchi Gallery in London. If I Am Immune To It, I Don't Deserve To Be Here marks her first solo exhibition with Bose Pacia in New York. Schandra Singh lives and works in Poughkeepsie, New York.