Recently the main thrust of my work has been painting portraits of the recently deceased. I think that this concern with mortality can be attributed to an increased awareness of my own mortality since the birth of my daughter. The top painting was done shortly after the tragic death of Whitney Houston. I think of this painting as my answer to David’s “Death of Murat,” although the composition is in this case my own. This year I have been exclusively painting and drawing the newly dead. So far I have painted Whitney, Gary Carter, Adam Yauch, Steve Jobs, and drawn roughly 50 others.
I have several other projects that I bounce back and forth between, a bunch of “buddies.” One of these project is a series of re-imaginings of paintings by the great American master, Philip Guston. This one is called “Sexy Monument,” modeled after Guston’s 1978 painting “Monument,” which is in the collection of the Tate. I think that the Guston picture is among his most powerful. My interpretation of the composition may not have the same psychological presence that “Monument” has, but perhaps mine is a more ambiguous image, somewhere between appealing and horrific.
Tom Sanford, 2012