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Sanya Kantarovsky
Happy Soul

Nov 8 - Dec 13, 2014

Press Release

Sanya Kantarovsky’s installation at LA><ART combines montage and painting marking 
the artist’s first work in animation. Happy Soul overlays film animation upon a figurative 
painting hung in the righthand quadrant of the projection frame. The geometry of the film 
registers at the edges of the stretcher in a playful manner that pits the illusion of two 
images interacting against formal interventions – a cartoonish hand brushes against the 
seams of the white canvas and creatures fly in and out of the painting changing hues 
sporadically.
 
The painting depicts an isolated male nude gazing back at the viewer, blankly, covering 
his sex. The plane of the picture begins to signal a tangible, physical space as the 
montage shifts shape and transforms again. In the artist’s telling, the painting 
surrounded by cinema creates a theatrical environment for the static figure as the 
animations swirl around him; in one instance a spotlight falls directly on the painted 
figure literally signaling his entrance upon the stage. These interplays between the 
painterly depiction of the body and that body set in motion, as well as the somatic 
presence of the viewer, trace a correlation between an intimate, private space, and a 
public, theatrical one.
 
The animation itself incorporates an alphabetic repertoire of motifs – images adopted 
from previous paintings and drawings feel both generic and rehearsed – butterflies 
flutter, lighting roves the horizon, blank pieces of paper stir in space, watches tick, 
hands gesture, smoke bellows. These unresolved illusions set up expectations for a 
narrative that never comes into being. Rather, each element creates a mood driven by 
visual textures and thus joins the artist’s painting practice as a system of self-reflexive 
motifs, visual puns and allegories. One such example is the animated revolution of the 
painting upon an axis that momentarily reveals the painting’s stretcher bars and linen, 
as though it were the backstage entrance to Happy Soul. 
 
The soundtrack to the work consists of two a cappella versions of Motown songs, 
Marvin Gayes’ What’s Going On and Smokey Robinson’s Being with You. The former 
addresses a collective body in response to episodes of police brutality in the 1960’s: 
“Mother, mother There's too many of you crying.” In contrast, the song Being with You
embodies individual, intimate desire with lyrics like “I don't care what they think about 
me and I don't care what they say.” This contrast echoes the duality of interiority and 
exteriority, aloneness and togetherness in the animation and painting. The absence of 
the expected musical accompaniment allows the content of the lyrics to resonate in a 
more potent, and at times uncanny way.