Amelia Saddington’s paintings and drawings present a simultaneous flow of thoughts and responses. Working in an intentionally open, improvisational manner, Saddington allows the process of making to bring about its own moments of surprise and resolution. While there is a specificity within her selection of starting points—for example, responding to a particular TV-production of Pride and Prejudice, or the placement of used boots on a sidewalk, through which the artist injects reflexive sensibilities like humor or agitated exuberance—the work tends to speak from and for itself as it comes into being. Through this working process, Saddington produces new and different kinds of signs in response to a search for meaning in the visual plane. In turn, the ways in which images and language might be subverted or misunderstood becomes a highly generative factor at the core of the artist’s work. The selection in Aerogram Sonogram offers an overview of Saddington’s more recent investigations, which merge observational images, imagined landscapes, and reconfigured imagery.
Many of these works adopt a play on words within their titles, forming further entry points to deciphering their hidden references. Best Intentions seems to unfold like a map made out of stained glass—and while the title is meaningful in various ways, the artist most immediately wanted to register her own best intentions in using a fragmented female form. Saint Lucy draws reference to Domenico di Pace Beccafumi’s 1521 painting of the same subject, and was made while working simultaneously on Spontaneous Generation, wherein the platter holding the Saint’s eyes transforms into a deep red orb. The title also sparks an association to the concept that all things once evolved spontaneously from mud, speaking more broadly to the process of creation involved in these works, with mud being understood as the opposite of nothing. In a painting like Birthday, the title became a way for Saddington to resolve the image, injecting the sort of woozy cheerfulness felt on a birthday, while at the same time suggesting the physical nature of the birthing process through its spiraling imagery.
The exhibition’s titular drawing, Aerogram, Sonogram, is the result of an unintended combination of two figures, where one seems to reach inside the other. The title describes two formats for conveying highly personal information—one carrying a message based in language, the other through a photograph—transposing two distinct qualities of distance from the internal self and other. Saddington’s work moves in that space between.
Amelia Saddington (b. 1978, Washington, DC) received an MFA from Columbia University, New York and BA from Concordia University, Montreal. Her work has been presented at venues including Know More Games, New York; the Art Book Fair at MoMA PS1; Night Gallery, Los Angeles; and Franco Soffiantino Arte Contemporanea, Turin. Saddington makes music under the name Open Topic. Her previous bands include Et At It, Ra Ra Fre+Am, and Remote Burial, who performed at the New Museum, NY. She has also been a member of the art collective MADAM and the dance troupe Domestic Tar Petal. Saddington lives and works in New York.
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