October 21 – November 20, 2016
Kaplan Gallery, VisArts
Opening Reception: Friday, October 28, 7 – 9 PM
Artist Talk: TBD
Michael Sastre’s recent series of paintings explores the movement of contraband via clandestine airstrips in Florida. The paintings reference a parallel economy where ordinary life collides and colludes with a subculture of smuggling activities. Sastre’s narrative paintings, presented in an installation with airplane parts and “swamp stuff”, are quirky, funny, disorienting, and smart. They elude to the Romantic sublime themes found in British and American land and seascape painting and to pirate genre painting. In beautiful, vast natural surroundings touched by extraordinary color and light, are very ordinary, yet nefarious characters engaged in criminal activities.
Sastre began this series long after discovering a very close family connection to the world depicted in his recent work. He literally has been using his latest paintings to exact some sort of “revenge through ridicule” and to reveal the contradictions that are hidden in plain sight. He has no dogmatic social message, just acts as an observer. The depth of this underground reality defies any sort of organized war. He is one man grappling with how the narco world rubs up against his personal/cultural reality.
About the artist: Michael Sastre has broadly exhibited across the United States including 22 solo exhibitions. His works are included in both private and public collections. He is the recipient of a State Arts Council Fellowship and a National Endowment for the Arts award. He currently divides his time between Derwood, Maryland and Miami, Florida. Sastre’s studio is located in the Annex building of Washington ArtWorks in Rockville, Maryland. Sastre’s paintings capture the tense duality of the landscape as a sublime natural phenomenon and as a remote, inaccessible site for illicit activities. Paradise-like marshes and riverways set the scene for nefarious characters who arrive and depart from astonishingly beautiful, natural areas. Research for the artist’s work is an art form in itself involving a great deal of archeological exploration through found imagery, metal scraps, and observation. Sastre’s work delves into the tension and beauty of remote, inaccessible areas.