Countries around the world—though sadly, not the United States, excepting certain of its ethnic communities—practice the ritual of communal bathing. Japan has its onsen, Turkey its hammam, Russia its banya. Sarah Thibault, on residency in Iceland, did as one does and partook in the local sauna scene. The resulting oil paintings and graphite drawings, on display at Fahrenheit Madrid in a show originally set for May, exude warmth, relaxation and conviviality. Women, and a few men, figure in a style that owes something to Lisa Yuskavage, something else to Picasso’s classical phase. They bask in the sweaty orange glow of wood-lined cabanas, comfortable in their skimpy underthings and striped sarongs, having a drink, chatting, stretching, and just otherwise enjoying a tradition that combines healthfulness and socializing, while simultaneously solving the problem of how to get through the long, cold, dark Nordic winter. Alas, looking at the pictures in Winter Woods right now, while virus cases spike worldwide, feels fraught. This is how it was. Will it ever be this way again?
—Lori Waxman 2020-10-20 10:55 AM