Bentley Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition of nine new portrait paintings by renowned artist, John Sonsini.
This is the artist’s first solo exhibition in Arizona.
John Sonsini paints from life. His works are mostly all of Hispanic males that he meets in and around the streets of mid-town Los Angeles. He pays the men an hourly wage to sit for him, usually for 5 hours a day, daily, until the paintings are completed. Sonsini has been painting Hispanic men for more than 25 years and is best known for his large format portraits of day laborers, in which the subjects seem larger than life. His paintings are not objectifying the men or turning them into political symbols. Sonsini clearly understands the importance of what he documents in his paintings, though he has never set out to make any particular statement. Instead, he allows the images to speak for themselves.
Sonsini explains, “I’ve been painting Latin guys here in LA since the '80s. That’s pretty much my theme. Often I meet someone on the street looking for work — three years and 15 paintings later, the person is now a friend and one day may show up at my studio with vaquero-cowboy clothes on, and we make yet another painting. I view the process of painting a portrait as work, and I like it to be treated as work. But these are also experiences, relationships. You know, I'm not a solitary painter. I'm trying to remake the image, and the experience, too. It’s the entire activity. It’s why the paintings look the way they do."
The paintings being exhibited at Bentley Gallery depict a recent shift in Sonsini’s imagery. A few of the new works reference room interiors and objects – narrative elements or suggestions that Sonsini has avoided in the past: A sweater draped over a backpack, a stack of boxes along side a suitcase, seated and standing subjects suspended in a moment in space that is both abstract and literal. The contrast makes for riveting paintings.
John Sonsini was born in Rome, NY, in 1950, and earned a B.A. from California State University Northridge, CA in 1975. His work is included in several prominent public collections including the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, NY, the Whitney Museum of American Art, NY, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CA, and The Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C. Sonsini lives and works in Los Angeles.
John Sonsini’s paintings are included in The Human Touch: Selections from the RBC Wealth Management Collection to be exhibited at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, January 19 through April 28, 2013.
Saturday, February 9, 4-7 pm
In conjunction with Bentley Gallery, John Sonsini will present a discussion about his work at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, followed by a Q&A with SMoCA curator Emily Stamey, on Thursday, January 31 at 7pm.
ABOUT BENTLEY GALLERY
Founded in 1984, Bentley Gallery is a contemporary gallery representing artists from the U.S. and Europe, along with Asian and African antiquities and secondary market works from the late 19th century to the Modern era. Bentley Gallery is located in the historic Bentley Projects warehouse in downtown Phoenix. With more than 25,000 square feet of gallery space, artists have no limits on exhibition concepts and opportunities, allowing Bentley Gallery to provide the viewing public with new art, new ideas, and new experiences.