We acknowledge the Gadigal of the Eora Nation, the traditional custodians of the Country on which the Art Gallery of NSW stands.


Friday night



Sayre Gomez

United States of America

1982 –

Alternate image of Friday night by Sayre Gomez
Alternate image of Friday night by Sayre Gomez
Alternate image of Friday night by Sayre Gomez
  • Details

    Media category
    Materials used
    synthetic polymer paint on canvas
    213.8 x 305.5 x 3.5cm
    Purchased with funds provided by Alberto Fis 2021
    Not on display
    Accession number
    © Sayre Gomez

    Reproduction requests

    Artist information
    Sayre Gomez

    Works in the collection


  • About

    Lightning crackles through a purple sky. The satellite dishes listen for signals. A ‘Speedzone’ sign starts to glow in the dusk. A few backlit trees wait beyond the hoarding.

    Meanwhile, straight ahead of us, looms the form of an aged RV – an icon of American mobility that has come to a profound stop. This is Los Angeles, the mythologised site of a westward push across the continent. And this vehicle points left, as if invoking a journey that’s now run aground. The unlikely hero of this picture is the guard dog that looks intently in the other direction, towards something beyond the picture’s edge that is approaching this (im)mobile home.

    The painting’s many realistic details come from Sayre Gomez’s daily drives across Los Angeles. But this vista also ‘unreal’ -- a collage of different moments, glimpses and views. And the longer one looks, the more it seems charged with an uncanny energy, part ominous and part magical.

    The lightning that snaps through the swelling sky appears to strike the luggage piled on the vehicle, connecting the celestial realm with the world of grit and struggle below. The vehicle itself, with its many blind windows, is charged with psychological pressure. Someone lives here; the dog and the bicycle echo the imagery of family road-trips. But the blank apertures leave us wondering about the life lived inside.

    This sense of screening and hiding is also Gomez’s way of meditating on his own art. The taped-up windows echo his own method for creating his hyper-real images, working with taped stencils to generate immaculate surfaces that draw us in yet keep us out. As a painter and a social observer, Gomez specialises in surface tension.

    Friday Night recalls many moments from cinema, among them Chloe Zhao’s 'Nomadland' 2020 and Quentin Tarantino’s 'Once upon a time in … Hollywood' 2019. But what makes Gomez’s painting singularly cinematic is its sense of suspense – a feeling of nervous anticipation that also sums up a moment in American political and social life. On Friday Nights, things seem open, unstable. A storm is coming. What will happen? Where is shelter?

  • Exhibition history

    Shown in 3 exhibitions

    • True crime, Xavier Hufkens, Belgium, 15 Apr 2021–15 May 2021

    • Dreamhome: stories of art and shelter, Art Gallery of New South Wales, North Building, Sydney, 03 Dec 2022–27 Aug 2023

    • Halfway, Yarrila Arts and Museum, Coffs Harbour, 08 Dec 2023–11 Feb 2024

  • Bibliography

    Referenced in 1 publication

    • Justin Paton, Art News New Zealand, 'Live Voltage', pg.46-7, Auckland, Winter 2021, 46-7, 46 (colour illus.).