The Art Of Healing: Jon Sarkin’s Kinetic Vision

Kevin Sessums, Vanity Fair

Like a rapper’s clarion call cutting through a D.J.’s sample-happy turntable, artist Jon Sarkin’s clear-eyed vision peers back at you from the multi-syllabic jumble of his collage-addled canvases. Sarkin’s stunning talent calls to mind a kind of Twombly with a twisted sense of humor. A basket-case Basquiat. Rauschenberg as Rorschach test. And yet, his is a singular aesthetic. A respected chiropractor from Gloucester, Massachusetts, Sarkin had his whole world change in 1988 when he heard a “wet snap” inside his left ear while bending down to pick up a golf ball, resulting in severe ringing in that ear. The medical journey that ensued – an operation to repair his acoustic nerve, a subsequent debilitating stroke, a two-month semi-coma – unleashed in him the vividness with which he now views the world. Would Sarkin – who once thought in physiological terms about healing others – say that art itself can heal? “I think my healing ability now is more effective. As chiropractor, I could only heal one person at a time. Now I’m more inclusive, more encompassing. Before, I had to use a sharpshooting bullet. Now I can use a shotgun,” he says, evoking the incongruity of his violently soothing images. “I believe in the dualities of life. My work is moving as well as upsetting.” The artist, who is the brother of V.F.’s features editor Jane Sarkin, has lived the kind of inspirational existence one usually sees depicted in the movies, and indeed, Paramount Pictures has purchased the rights to his story. Tom Cruise has long expressed interest in portraying him. Sarkin’s work – along with that of painter and printmaker Hamilton D. South III – will be on display at the Diane Von Furstenburg Studio in New York from Spril 25 to 27.