David Sandlin's road to damnation is studded with pit stops -in the Biblical sense- from adultery and avarice to venality and zealotry, and he's happy to lead you on your way in this lyric paean to southern gothic guilt, shown here for the first time in New York.
In one long, continuous room-circumnavigating drawing, Sandlin takes you on a journey of alphabetic depravity, relating a tale of jealousy, murder, and-well, you just have to come and see-all in lilting iambic pentameter:
"Our acme of ardor, was it only a fable, Was it the adultery and avarice that made it unstable Like a television soap opera coming over the cable?"
The Alphabetical Ballad of Carnality, the latest installment of Sandlin's sprawling epic series "A Sinner's Progress," is perhaps his wittiest. This flowing cycloramic drawing, over 60 feet long, depicts thirty-two images in sin-drenched color illustrating one man's sordid spiral into depravity. Every letter of the alphabet gets titillating, tongue-twisting treatment in rhyme as each luridly illustrated image seamlessly segues to the next. Sandlin's love of inventive language, especially puns, finds full expression here, tracing a lineage to traditions for which he claims a congenital affinity: Irish literature and American country music.
Looming above Sandlin's adults-only abecedary and backlit in lurid barroom lights is a frieze of wooden cutouts, Hangover Hollow. A bestiary of tortured creatures caper and prance across the walls, gleefully playing off the human drama unfolding in the drawing below.
The drawing exhibited here is the original artwork for Sandlin's 2006 book, published by Fantagraphics Books, in Seattle, Washington. Steven Heller, in his review in the New York Times, called the book a "comically grotesque series of disturbingly funny tableaus about the upside of eternal damnation, filthy lucre, and masochistic mendacity."
David Sandlin's paintings, prints, books, and installations have been exhibited extensively in New York and elsewhere across the United States, Europe, Japan, and Australia. His comics and paintings have appeared in Blab!, The Ganzfeld, Hotwire, Raw, and many other graphic venues. He is a recipient of grants from the Pollock Krasner Foundation, New York Foundation for the Arts, and the Penny McCall Foundation, among others. An instructor at the School of Visual Arts in New York, Sandlin was also the 2007-2008 Lamar Dodd Professorial Chair at the University of Georgia.
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