The Collector # 12

Steven Harvey / Sangram Majumdar and Kyle Staver


Conversations with Friends

A few months ago I moved into a new home. I’ve had a lot of fun hanging pictures in the rooms of this house. Each morning I wake up to two works hanging side by side next to my bed. One is a 2009 painting by Sangram Majumdar, called Islands. It was from the first gallery show we did together. I sold it, but ended up trading back for it because it was too big for the small rooms of the client’s house. I am grateful that I got it back as I always ended up selling the paintings by Sangram that I wanted. Hanging next to it is a small drawing by Kyle Staver that she gave me as a birthday gift. In it, a naked woman rises in the sky amidst clouds of cherubs. It is related to a painting called Ascension that we showed in Mythologies, a 2018 group show at the gallery.

“Ascension Study”

The thing that relates these two works for me are the floating black shapes in both. In Kyle’s drawing it’s the cherubs’ hair. In Sangram it’s the dark patterns on the tiles, which he built and painted himself – to fashion a sandwiched still life with a Siennese detail underneath, the aforementioned fleur-de-lis patterned tiles and a pile of two by fours. Like an auteur film director he would construct the environment in his paintings.

When I wake up, I’m seeing in soft focus. I see the cherubs’ little dark heads in Kyle’s drawing, like black spots, and the painterly fleur-de-lis forms of tiles in Sangram’s painting, first. They wiggle around in my consciousness. I notice the ship’s figure-head composition that both works employ, each pushing a form at top-center that emerges out and forward.

Staver and Majumdar are long, close friends and I love how their works looks together. One of the pleasures of owning art is seeing such good friends in conversation over time.

—Steven Harvey


“The Collector” is an ongoing series in which I ask people to talk about a painting or a drawing they own. See other installments here.

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