Foreword to the Light Leaks Catalogue

From the MCA Denver

by Adam Lerner

I often think about the words Pierre Bonnard wrote in a note to his friend Henri Matisse: “My work is not going too badly and I dream of seeking the Absolute.”

I love the way Bonnard shifts so seamlessly from ho-hum conversational banterto the biggest thing imaginable. I like that he embeds a message about thetotality of all phenomena visible and invisible in a message akin to the kind ofdaily report a guy might give his wife: “Work was fine today, honey.” This wasan artist who, years after his wife had died, made paintings showing her taking abath. Bonnard depicted the everyday, but he was always searching for somethingthat transcended time. The same impulse strikes in the work of Isca Greenfield-Sanders, an artist who presents mundane instances from ordinary life and makesthem feel universal.

Isca Greenfield-Sanders’ paintings are based on photographs, which means theyare based on memory. This is another quality she shares with her predecessorBonnard, who once said that he never let himself get absorbed in reality. Neitherone is interested in the world that appears in the full light of day, a world thatopens itself up fully and clearly, because this world has nothing of us in it.Through memory, we internalize the external. It is not about accuracy or truth. It isabout us. Our memory makes reality our reality. This is the reality that Greenfield-Sanders depicts. She depicts what the poet Stéphane Mallarmé terms “gloriouslies.”

In her “Light Leaks” series, Isca Greenfield-Sanders reminds us how littlereality we need to trigger our memories. Her deteriorated images work on us.She understands that imperfection is more captivating than perfection, in thesame way that a person’s quirkiness makes them more, not less, lovable. Whensomething or someone appears entirely complete and fully realized, it leaves noplace for us. In her recent series of paintings, Greenfield-Sanders creates imagesthat are partly washed out. This white space is crucial; it is the space the artistcreates for us.

I am proud that Isca Greenfield-Sanders has chosen MCA Denver as the placeto share her most recent explorations of memory and image. We are grateful toher, and we also congratulate her on her first solo museum exhibition. We arealso grateful to Robert Goff and Haunch of Venison, New York and London; Johnand Gretchen Berggruen and John Berggruen Gallery, San Francisco; RichardEdwards and Baldwin Gallery, Aspen, CO; Julia Klüser and Galerie Klüser, Munich,Germany; and Bjorn Wetterling and Wetterling Gallery, Stockholm, Sweden.

Finally, I would like to thank my own team at MCA Denver for all of their effortsto make this exhibition and catalogue possible. I especially want to thank NickSilici, who takes care of the heavy lifting here, and Tricia Robson, who makes surethe right things get lifted at the right time. I want to thank Alex Stephens, whodesigned this catalogue under heavy fire, and Sarah Kate Baie, who uses herwords so well. Most of all, I would like to thank Associate Curator Nora BurnettAbrams, who introduced this wonderful artist to the museum. I would also like tocongratulate Nora for curating her first exhibition at MCA Denver. I am thrilledto be able to work with a curator who so much appreciates both the power ofimages and the human connections they make possible.

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