For Love and Glory

Friday, July 18th, 2014 | Art, Friends

I stopped by Jack Fischer’s gallery in San Francisco last week, to see the work of my friend, Sarah Ratchye. Sarah led me and a delightful buddy of hers through the exhibition, For Love and Glory, which consists of graphite and silverpoint drawings, paintings, collages, and handmade wallpaper. There are images of lunar surfaces, octopus tentacles, ballet slippers, fabric, gems, floating astronauts, the Venetian lagoon, blood splattered space gloves… disparate images woven into a narrative that explores our interaction with the moon, both as graphic inspiration and potential living space. Well, and a lot more than that. Sarah explores the surface of the moon aesthetically and metaphorically, searching for meaning in our involvement and experience there.

Her eyes light up when she talks about space junk, the “final frontier,” and bloody moon shoes. Yet like not wanting someone to spoil the end of the movie, I don’t want her to talk too much about this stuff and upset the experience of discovery. I could look at those silverpoints all day, lost in the folds of lunar landscapes, and suddenly there’s an arm, or those ballet slippers. There’s always deeper to dig, always some delightfully enigmatic image that frustrates an easy reading.

A particular favorite of mine, DIvr, has as a backdrop a blurry image of a few buildings on the Venetian lagoon. In the foreground, in sharp focus, are an upside down astronaut, the sea reflected in his silvery helmet, and above him a woman’s bathing cap, one of those fabulous mid-20th-century architectural rubber floral helmets that Esther Williams would have worn, removing it to reveal a perfectly coifed shimmery Technicolor ‘do. The background image dissolves on the right side of the canvas into a different plane of reflected lagoon water. The slight shifts in focus and perspective within the same canvas create a kind of soft Cubist space, but instead of letting us view an object from many perspectives within one picture plane, Sarah fills her painting surface with beautifully rendered psychologically rich images of different cultural and technological signifiers.

You could call her a lunatic, hahaha… One painting titled Menas, presents the moon as menace, seemingly entering the earth’s atmosphere–the sky is pink, the clouds black and brooding–yet the moon has these red blossoms around it, like a flower a kid would paint, and the surface of the moon so beautifully bright and crisply clear. If she can’t get to the moon just yet, the moon is finally coming to her, and in humanity’s end, she finds nothing but delight and wonder.

It’s not the same old story, Sarah’s tales of love and glory. On that you can rely.

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