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Sharon    Sandberg

...Commentaries...

Joseph Becherer: "ON ART"
The Grand Rapids Press, Thursday, September 30, 2010

“It was a thrill to walk through the doors of the Grand Rapids Art Museum.
Lots of people, lots of energy and lots of good art ... really good art.

.......In fact, as I walked through the galleries I needed to remind myself
I was in Grand Rapids, because the quality of experience was very much
what I expect at important art fairs and exhibitions I have been fortunate
to enjoy in major metropolitan areas known for contemporary art.

Grand Rapids Art Museum has a strong tradition for displaying paintings,
drawings and prints, and has often gravitated toward realism over abstraction.
This considered, it did not surprise me that their exhibition opened with several
very strong paintings.

Grand Rapids artist Sharon Sandberg’s oil on canvas, “ Kimono with Floating Still LIfe,”
is an extroardinary visual experience. Even if you are not a tradionalist in your
personal taste, this work is an essay on the art of painting. Carefully composed
with great attention to detail, it exudes a sense of calm, of serenity,
that is wonderfully contemplative if not hypnotic.”


     Joseph Becherer is chief curator and vice president for collections and exhibitions
      at the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, Grand Rapids, Michigan


SHARON SANDBERG - works on paper -
Kingston University Exhibition Catalogue

   “ A bottle, a dustpan, a table and a wall - this spare litany of objects is the grist to
Sharon Sandberg’s painting mill. Her special skill is to breathe a quintessential
identity into the lineaments of the mundane and quotidian, or the culturally ghettoed,
through an alchemy of observation and characterisation. The means are deceptively simple
- unforced, with no expressive histrionics or bravura displays of “painterliness”. These
spare paintings represent a peculiarly charged portraiture of inanimate objects,
conferring personality - even a vulnerability - upon inert matter. This is achieved by
an art that disguises art, a prestidigitation of understatement, of authorial
discretion.

  Sandberg’s paintings are so good that they evoke in their unassuming way the great
masters of the still life genre, from Chardin to Morandi. She shares with her
predecessors a concern to balance an almost numinous sense of light and atmosphere with
a piercing regard for the essence of the object - what Gerard Manley Hopkins would call
its “inscape”.

  She achieves a Pinteresque cabinet drama, in which the urge to describe vies with a less
tangible, or controllable, need to portray the mystery of things. And so in the best
work the depicted objects - apparently the subjects - become vessels through which
Sandberg paints a self-portrait as moving as it is intimate.”

    Professor Bruce Russell, London, October 1996

BEING AND TIME: Sharon Sandberg’s essential still life
The Paper, Thursday, September 30, 2010

  “If time could be contained, or at least allowed to slow down, it might look something
like the paintings of Sharon Sandberg.

  Emerging from still life tradition, Sandberg’s images are perceptual maps, outlining the
careful experience of arranged objects and their relationships. These paintings can be seen
assembled objects ranging from ironing boards, bowls and shelves to fruit, bottles and eggs.
Sandberg arranges and rearranges these simple objects, skillfully recreating them in paint,
a facile demonstration of color and composition.

  Sandberg’s still lives are part of a living tradition, reaching back to the common
objects depicted by Chardin, the multi-perspectives of Cezanne and more directly to the
deliberate tenacity of Giorgio Morandi. Morandi, an Italian painter, painted the same objects
repeatedly over the course of his life, yet managed to present fascinating spatial subtleties.

  Sandberg’s activity similarly engages a disciplined focus, an attentiveness
that has held her for the past ten years.

  In a culture in which the blind rapidity of change is held as a virtue,
these paintings linger and hold our own attention and offer a challenge of slowness.
The Czech novelist, Milan Kundera, refers to the degree of speed as directly
proportional to the intensity of forgetting, while the degree of slowness is directly
proportional to the intensity of memory. The slow repetition of Sandberg’s paintings
allow one to enter into a ritual of seeing and remembering, an experience of
depth.

  A small painting completed in 1990 titled “Kissing Melons” has an explosive
use of color as it shifts from a brilliant to muted minty greens and blues.
In the background is an odd, electric blue line traversing the length of the painting.
In the time it takes to reach the right side of the image, the brightness darkens, the space
falls back, and our eyes move forward. This subtle shifting of space with color is prevalent
in Sandberg’s work and affords complicated formal relationships.

   Another striking image is “Ironing Board: Watermelon Profile” from 1991.
In this painting, the red of a large sliced watermelon fades into a cool temperature range
against the rigid heat of the red background. The watermelonis sitting on an old ironing board
and is thrust into the top left side of the painting, generating an odd shift of balance.
It is almost as if the electricity generated between the warm and cool tones assist the formal.
balancing with the off-centered ironing board, demonstrating an interconnected web of
multiple relationships.

   One of my favorite paintings is “Green Apple with Metal Ruler” from 1997.
This painting has a green apple in a glass dish placed upon a shelf next to a shiny
metal ruler. The ruler plays the right side of the painting with crescendos of variegated
color while the green apple on the left side refracts into flatness and then back into
illusion as it is viewed above and through the glass. Two flat red squares (the
background beneath the shelf) pop out on the bottom left and right corners,
adhering the image to the rectangle, like visual anchors.

  As one views the painting up close, one cannot help but notice what looks to
be a small, quick swoop of a brush stroke of white paint generating the glass dish.
This immediate gesture is an intriguing break from Sandberg’s premeditated process,
yet remains consistent within the whole as the transient shimmer of the glasses
transparency is undeniably recreated.

   For all the exactitude that surrounds Sandberg’s discipline, this work does not end
at the convienence of “order.” That sort of observation is too easy and reduces the paintings
to a simplistic, facility driven formula.

  The images, the objects, and their surrounding relationships, entertain a serious sense
of futility in the attempt to order. At an almost imperceivable level, they practice
restraint --- the edges fuzz and falter and turn away from a single-pointed realism
into a perceptual play of painted experience. They are beautiful formal constructions,
yes, but a formal ordering based upon a sincere humility of experience.

  This, of course, is the stuff of real life, where the edges don’t always match up
and where no matter how hard we attempt to organize reality, it buckles and snaps
against that pattern.

  Sharon Sandberg’s still paintings compel us, like the words of T.S. Eliot’s “Four Quartets,”
to “be still and still moving / Into another intensity.”

  In a slow, poetic way, they permit us to pay serious attention to our own constructions
of time, space and being.”

    CONRAD BAKKER, teacher, artist and writer

THE WORK OF SHARON SANDBERG

  “Decanting a traditional subject into a severely modernist matrix, Sharon Sandberg’s calm
still lifes rest securely in the present. She combines formalist rigor with sensuous color,
blending Constructivist economy with some of the joyful use of color one associates with
the Post - Impressionists.

  Since Sandberg works in the tradition of her genre (Cotan, Chardin, Morandi and Bailey)
these variously sized and formatted canvases have that drive toward equilibrium one would
expect of the still life artist.

  In the smaller pieces there seems to be just the quiet celebration of “thingness,” objects
flooded with color, energy and substance. Some luxuriate, pooled in glassy containers.
In the more complex pieces Sandberg insists upon the right to invest her images with
undercurrents of personal drama, at times sober, often lyrical but always infused with an
intellectual balance and measure.”


    Don Kerr, Professor Emeritus, Grand Valley State University