Sadie Barnette: Superfecta
Charlie James Gallery
969 Chung King Road, Los Angeles CA 90012
January 9 – February 20, 2016
Superfecta, Sadie Barnette’s solo exhibition at the Charlie James Gallery, is a gesture to family as an affective space. Bodily memories are attached to specific locations, and Barnette materializes the two as a type of sensory materiality. Using the horse track as her subject—and graphite, and photographs as her materials—Barnette has produced a body of work that beautifully reflects upon family, sport, and the mundane as acts of enjoyment and reminiscences.
There’s an intensity of labor within this show as each piece is distinctly duteous. In return, Barnette requests a type of labor from the audience, positioning the role of the familial as mood rather than direct representation. The curatorial notes tell us that, as a child, Barnette was her father’s good luck charm at the track and thus offers a piece of significance of the races within the artist’s life. Yet, Barnette’s abstraction of the assumed family within her work—those photographs of cousins, fathers, and aunts largely not made to appear—positions the affective sensory of family within the visuals of the races themselves. This imaging of the track, the racehorses, and the jockeys works as the structure of Barnette’s familial rumination, making material a series of corporal sensations attached to the nostalgic milieu.
Daily racing forms are Barnette’s most dominant canvas as they map the walls of the main gallery. In one set of pieces, the numbers 1-9 are sequenced and framed separately; each number is denoted within the shadow of Barnette’s meticulously etched graphite work or within its positive space. What peeks behind each number are the particulars of horse racing: betting statistics, jockeys, advertisements, and rankings. As spectators, we are placed within the incessant counting of the track and of the money that flows through it via Barnette’s intricate and dutiful stenciling.
Track lexicon and corporality is figured in (Untitled) Go Go Go (2015), a series of three images on colored Plexi. A swiftly moving jockey in an elaborate ocean of graphite is placed at the center of one racing form. The words “Go Go Go” stream down the following form with a concave American flag being the final form in the set. As the go, go, go’s become larger and severed towards the end of the paper, the form’s numbers break through, reminding us of the capital exchanged and the joyful angst of the moment. In conjunction, Barnette’s images capture the audience in the anticipatory moment; adrenaline and racing hearts work in tandem with the near sway of the American flag.
The works (Untitled) Superfecta (2015) and (Untitled) Hollywood Park (2016) splay their titles as a series of floating squares and sharp inclines. Glowing neon emits from behind each piece, positioning them as a type of marquee as they rest along the back wall of the main gallery. Barnette also scores the names of horses “Pacific Pride,” “Hard Sun,” and “Kitty Cash” on separate sheets of racing forms. The rounded letters and kitschy names inform the pieces as lively and joyful recollections. With (Untitled) Glitter Pony (2015), Barnette continues this play with horses, betting, and flash with a sparkled canvas surrounding a racehorse portrait. The quality of play and delight that emits from these pieces is the result of Barnette’s mastery of letterform and layering, which provides the structuring of our senses.
Unequivocally, Barnette’s exhibition is an expression of elation—as embodied, as action, as gaming, and as anticipatory. Homage and futurity are imaged throughout the works as Barnette presents a meticulously crafted, affective space of the familial gathering.
 The only piece that is directly representational is a small photograph of the artist great Uncle who sits in a chair reading The Body Language of Horses. Barnette has adorned him with a crown, capturing the omnipresence of the track as a family sport and her sincere adoration of her family member.