Sarah Cain’s exhibition “Loud Object” at Anthony Meier Fine Arts in San Francisco simply and articulately addresses that nagging question that’s plagued the art world for generations now, “Why Paint?”
Ms. Cain lives and works in Los Angeles and has exhibited her work internationally at venues including the Hammer Museum and Honor Fraser Gallery in Los Angeles, SFMoMA, and Sara Meltzer Gallery in New York. She is a graduate of San Francisco Art Institute (BFA) and UC Berkeley (MFA). Cain is well known for pushing the boundaries of painting and exploring her work’s relationship to the architectural and emotional space it inhabits.
Cain’s paintings involve what, in lesser hands, might be considered bad ideas. Materials like cardboard, acrylic beads, safety pins, and plastic bags populate the work in “Loud Object”. Her practice appears to stem from an innate ability to find poetry and potency in things most of us tend to overlook. It’s difficult to put words to her symbolism and aesthetic and it seems that’s precisely her concept: that art is essential because there are ideas and feelings that are impossible to capture with language. In the press release for the exhibition, Ms. Cain makes an apt comparison of painting to poetry. She makes a smart and simple point. Why does it have to be any more complicated than that?
“Loud Object” is missing some of the ambition of Cain’s past shows in Los Angeles and New York. Yet what the show lacks in scale it makes up for in poetics. “Women & Power” (2013) combines a black silk beaded blouse with chains, feathers, twine, and paint. The blouse and geometric shapes emanating from it create the form of a dramatic cloak, perhaps the kind of garment that could symbolize the purpose of fashion itself in all its bizarre glory.
In “Synchronized Dreaming” (2013) Cain pieces together cardboard into what resembles a makeshift hardwood floor, onto which she paints four rectangular window-like shapes each containing layers of spattered paint and gold leaf along with prisms, screws, and staples. Cain has said that her work has tremendous personal meaning and although that’s hard to pinpoint, it is quite easy to project one’s own experiences into her work, inviting that moment that only great art can provide; a subtle, personal shift in consciousness. Her work, like Richard Tuttle’s work before her, embodies the freedom to do what you want and make your own meaning in the world.
“Loud Object” is on view at Anthony Meier Fine Arts until August 16th. Go see it before it’s gone.
-Contributed by Kelly Inouye