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Sanya Kantarovsky, One World, 2018, oil and watercolor on canvas

Lush, moody, touching, and wry, the paintings of Sanya Kantarovsky (b. 1982) offer a strange form of address. Their subjects gaze at you insolently (while on horseback, a corpse its casual companion), or entreatingly (while floating, probably wounded, in an endless sea). These are saturated images, built up from washes of color, layers of references, sly nods to our contemporary moment, and the self-conscious stylistic inflections of painters of yesteryear. One senses that their maker believes in the urgency but also the absurdity of painting as he assembles marks that are not afraid to be imperfect, even awkward. They make almost palpable such emotions as alienation, embarrassment, intimacy, and desire, exposing quotidian human melodrama and existential cruelty, all while being able to laugh at themselves, all while turning to you so that you laugh, too. Here, in the Russian-born artist’s largest exhibition to date and first institutional show in Switzerland, Kantarovsky shows all new paintings and monotype prints—the connections between the two mediums revealing much about his process of constructing images.