The term “over-saturation” feels particularly apt in describing the work of artist Borna Sammak, who for the past several years has worked at a uniquely playful and disturbing juncture of pop culture iconography. Perhaps best known for his canvases comprised of hundreds of heat-press t-shirt graphics layered with an almost machinic sense of repetition, Sammak’s approach to visual arrangements revels in chaos and confusion, yet almost always allows the viewer a moment to settle and find subtle rhythms and aesthetic logics within his swirling compositions.
For his most recent exhibition of works at JTT in New York, Sammak returns to this mode of practice, yet brings a few new tricks and techniques to bear for this new show. The beach is a recurring theme here, with one of his signature heat-press canvases composed almost solely from graphics using fish, sharks, and other beach-related icons, while on another wall, the artist has installed a blown-up pair of flip-flops, continuing a subtle ode to summer that feels particularly resonant in these warm June days. Yet his work also plays on other nuanced interests in domestic and surrealist fusions. Not Yet Titled (Couch) (2018), for instance, creates a swirling cluster of striped couch pieces, a gordian knot of furniture the feels especially overwhelming when given its stark color palette. Even the aforementioned heat-press work pays special attention to its arrangement of colors, shifting from light to dark blue as the viewer’s eye runs down the canvas, ultimately presenting the pieces as a seascape, or even a diagram, of sorts.
Taking this thread further, one could perhaps understand a predominant interest in depth for this show, not merely in the sense of oceanic or structural depth, but more specifically in the idea of works that delve ever deeper into their own assembled worlds. Sammak’s works here hold up the same sense of visual excess that have long defined his practice, yet also explore and unearth gradually unfolding layers of construction and subject matter. Even a piece like What Do People Do All Day (2018) plays on a decidedly frank presentation, a closed book that perhaps may never be opened. As much as Sammak’s work begs a question we may find ourselves asking all too often, the text may never be read (or perhaps it had never been written).
This idea of unspoken riddles, subtle narratives and delicate visual threads underscores an increasing maturity and refinement to the artist’s work, as he dives ever deeper into his chosen materials, and allows them to set off worlds of their own, even as they are being built.
— D. Creahan
Borna Samma: Hey You’re Part of It [JTT]