Emil Sands: Encounters

February 9, 2024 - March 30, 2024
Gobernador José Guadalupe Covarrubias 46, San Miguel Chapultepec 

JO-HS is delighted to present Encounters, a solo exhibition of new paintings by Emil Sands curated by Georgina Pounds (Director, OMR). The exhibition is accompanied by a text by Eleanor Nairne (Curator and Head of Modern and Contemporary Art, Philadelphia Museum of Art). 

The exhibition will be open to visitors Tuesday - Saturday, 10 AM - 6 PM. Email alexis@jo-hs.com to schedule your viewing.


The whole weight dropped suddenly away - the mind, the
Love, heavy love, was gone completely, and identity.
There was left the mountain-water, the bathers, the foliage;
The trees gripped down, swept up, and over stood the sky . . .

“The Bathers”, Josephine Jacobsen, Poetry (April, 1940)

Nico’s face is soft and the light is warm on his bare torso; sinews of violet paint twist along his collar bones and left forearm as he wanders by the water, lost in his own thought. Who are these young men who evade our reach? Two stand with their backs turned, thumbs pressed into the soft flesh above their pelvis, hair slicked down their neck, heads inclined towards one another. The scumbled sky suggests the intimacy of their exchange.

The bather is a familiar figure in the history of art. How could an artist resist the tender, sacred moment of a person’s ablutions, especially when there is the added charge of fellow bodies in a state of undress? In April 1877 Paul Cezanne unveiled Baigneurs au Repos at the third impressionist exhibition in Paris but the critics railed against his distorted anatomies and the ambivalent relationship of his bathers to one another (while Edgar Degas got home and was inspired to sketch the central man awkwardly donning his shorts).

A diptych of lonely men enhances the solitude of the protagonists by abutting the canvases together, so that their two worlds embrace one another but remain resolutely divided. The brooding figure on the left is accented by an inky sky, while his companion on the right stands in shallow water, the cool pink around him suggesting the first flush of dawn. These are men who belong to the half-light; the liminal space between day and night.

The other cast of characters in these paintings is the trees - spindly and towering and melting into amorphous forms on the horizon. This canopy has a kind of tranquility to it. There is a sense of verdant medicine on offer to these fragile bodies, who are always already failing to comply with the codes of masculinity prescribed to them. At least amid the quiet of a watery wood there is the possibility that ‘the whole weight’ might just drop suddenly away.

- Eleanor Nairne (Curator and Head of Modern and Contemporary Art, Philadelphia Museum of Art)

Request a preview ︎︎︎


Artist Biography 

Emil Sands was born in London in 1998, and currently lives and works in New York. He attended Central St. Martins for a Fine Art Painting foundation in 2017 and the University of Cambridge from 2018 until 2022, where he read Classics for his BA and studied for an MPhil in Ancient Art. In 2022, he was then awarded the Henry Fellowship to study Fine Art and Creative Writing at Yale's School of Art and Writing School respectively. In July 2023 Emil had his first solo show in New York with Tibor de Nagy. His work has also been exhibited in group shows across the UK - at the Crypt Gallery in London, and Mostyn gallery in Wales, most notably. His personal essay Struck on one Side, which focused on his experience growing up with Cerebral Palsy, was published in the March 2023 edition of The Atlantic magazine, along with his paintings. He is currently working on extending the piece into a memoir.

More recently he has spent November and December inMexico City completing a residency at JO-HS in preparation for Encounters, curated by Georgina Pounds (Director, OMR) and featuring a complimentary essay by Eleanor Nairnes (Senior Curator, Barbican).

Learn more ︎︎︎