Movies have toys as starring characters, but it’s still a visual jolt to see them depicted inside the frames of fine art paintings. But, like people, all toys have their stories.
The holidays are a time when toys come to the forefront as gifts, ornaments and instruments of the imaginative theater that is the world of play—whether it’s that of children, or adults moving pieces around a game board. Play always unravels some kind of story intimately tied up with a sense of one’s self, regardless of age.
Under the brush of Aniko Safrán, the subjects in her Toy Stories paintings don’t emerge as ironic or whimsical, but instead attain a kind of tacit history, a sense of something undisclosed. Toy cars (“On A Green Napkin” and “From Memory” are pictured) prompt one to imagine the story of how they arrived where they are, even the one perched atop a Mason jar. A view through a back window of one car inspires the question of where the passengers have gone. The generic characteristic of these autos—all apparently early-’60s-type bodies, though in different colors—might be a statement on the ubiquitous nature of the automobile in contemporary life. Or they might just be cars. One wonders where these miniature motor machines might go, as a vehicle of the imagination. What stories might they tell, or what narrative ramblings might they provoke?