Sanya Kantarosvsky is a sardonic story teller whose paintings depict strange snapshots in time where it is difficult to figure out what came before and what will happen after. Kantarovsky’s visual language employs cropped, pared-down compositions that frequently create an alarming tension between the distress of the subject and the ambiguousness of the scene. His material strategies, he mixes oil paint with water color, extend to the schism of his characters where it is often hard to distinguish between victim and perpetrator. “On Them” 2019, is particularly disturbing. Two ghostly figures stand half-submerged in dark water. Their bodies merge into one long, tunnel-like form and are joined in an urgent grip. Kantarovsky sets the scene in a claustrophobic perspective awash in ominous streaks of purple. The longer one stares at the display, the less it becomes clear whether this is a rescue or a sinister deed. For the only person who can solve the riddle is an unseen third person towards which the top figure strains. Slyly, Kantarovsky toys with the audience as eye and mind instinctively search for the mysterious Third Man and makes them uneasily complicit in his sinister riddle. His recalcitrant mise-en-scènes hold an involuntary, hypnotic grip on the viewer that touches on our primal fear of unknown terror. At Luhring Augustine through June 15.