Sam Sanford is a Texas based artist that focuses on print-style paintings. He characterizes his practice as the “struggle to recapture the punkness and freedom of his youth”. Sanford’s principal style is a form of painting that is similar to how a computer printer works. He uses very thin, primary color glazes and processes the canvas multiple times, up to sixty times, before it’s complete. Each glaze layer is of a single color and when placed upon the previous layer, they correct color is created. He stays with this technique as a precaution from getting bogged down in anal perfectionism of the details.
In his series, “Dark Days”, Sanford uses this technique to recreate his family’s vernacular photos. It focuses on the darkness of his childhood and the early years of his parents’ marriage. He wanted to explore the “encroachment of the invisible world”. For Sanford, you have the visible world, where physics rules and everything works as it should, in linear fashion. Then, there is an invisible world, a place where things don’t work as they ought. It is a metaphysical world where logic is missing and in its place is fate and an external network of plans.
“Dark Days” demonstrates Sanford’s musings on the “invisible world” through subtle color choices and hesitant lines. In the image above, the main subject is a young boy, but he is offset, pushed to the side and slightly back. A large majority of the painting is blank walls, with soft, dark lines as the only break of space. It creates a sense of isolation and loneliness.
Sanford is satisfied with “Dark Days” but not the prestige and acclaim that came with its exhibition. He found out that when galleries came to him wanting to push a new version of his series that he balked and became reticent to the project. For him, the “Why” of making his art was just as important as the “What”. He wants to make art for art’s sake, not because he’s been ordered or commissioned to.