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Install view: Sean Carroll.
John Burt Sanders: Spontaneous Horizon

June 17 - July 23, 2022

here is pleased to present, Spontaneous Horizon, a solo exhibition by Pittsburgh-based painter, John Burt Sanders. The opening reception will take place Friday, June 17th from 6 to 8pm.

John Burt Sanders is best known for his minimalist paintings that focus on the formal visual elements of color, texture, and composition to explore systems of order. Over gradient or atmospheric backgrounds, Sanders paints thick curvilinear forms—their thickness often correlating to the depth of the canvas—to suggest other imagery, like maps of unknown locations or cellular formations.

In Spontaneous Horizon, Sanders presents eleven new paintings where the abstract backgrounds of his previous works coalesce into more recognizable imagery, such as trees, a shoe, smokestacks, and a rocket launch. Sanders turns away from pure abstraction to reflect on humanity from a self-referential distance. Instead, Sanders’ new body of work engages directly with ideas of human destruction, intervention, and exploration, all while revealing a certain beauty in the excesses of man. Furthermore, the meandering lines—which either sit firmly on top like in Confluence or are woven into the imagery like in Horizon 1—are a felt procedure. The intuitive line work suggests an attempt to control the uncontrollable or to reduce destruction to a simpler, knowable form.

Sanders starts each work with a reference image, such as the ship scene from Frederic Edwin Church’s The Iceberg (1891, Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh) or the isolated shoe from Jean-Honoré Fragonard’s The Swing (1767, The Wallace Collection, London), and then proceeds to enlarge, isolate, and manipulate. Inspired by Romanticism and the work of American landscape painters, Sanders is especially drawn to the relationship between nature and mankind. In Horizon 1, the first painting in this new body of work, Sanders enlarges and then crops a moment from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The billowing black clouds instantly suggest disaster, all at once terrifying and beautiful.

John Burt Sanders (b. 1984, Arcade, NY) received his MFA in Painting from Ohio University. Sanders has been included in numerous solo and group exhibitions, including Full Circle, Concept Gallery, Pittsburgh, PA (2021); Soft Relay, Trisolini Gallery, Athens, OH (2020); Part of this Complete, Gallery One, Pittsburgh, PA (2018); What if For Sure, Wesleyan College, Buckhannon, WV (2016); Haylee Ebersole, John Burt Sanders, Stephanie Cayer, Kitchen Table Gallery, Philadelphia, PA (2016) and Temporary Show, Whitdel Arts, Detroit, MI (2014). The artist lives and works in Pittsburgh, PA.