Galerie Nathalie Obadia is delighted to present Intermediate Worlds, Jason Saager's first solo exhibition in Paris.
After obtaining a Bachelor of Fine Art from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, then a Master at the Hunter College, New York, Jason Saager now lives in Arizona, near the Superstition Mountains where he spent his childhood. The American West's vast natural spaces constitute the setting in which the artist grew up. Although he does not directly associate his personal story with his predilection for depicting landscapes, Saager focuses essentially on this subject. By adopting this classic theme of American pictorial art, Jason Saager maintains the continuity of this tradition, while distinguishing himself with his highly personal and singular approach that is resolutely contemporary in nature. While the spatial composition of his works includes figurative, natural elements such as clouds, trees and hills, the paintings displayed in the exhibition show worlds where reality disintegrates in favour of a fantasy universe. Intermediate Worlds offers a journey through the heart of the artist's rampant imagination, permeated by influences from many different horizons.
In our collective imagination, the immense landscapes of the American West are vectors of both fantasy and fascination: their painted representations are endowed with powerful nationalistic significance and in this sense, have taken on a more mythological rather than geographical aspect. The Hudson River School, an artistic movement born in 19th century America, is the most eloquent example of this. As the American Republic advanced westward, the artists from this movement painted wild and grandiose, natural landscapes, akin to a lost paradise. These various depictions have fed generations of imaginations and persist in doing so, even today.
Jason Saager breathes new life into this classic theme and on viewing the four painting in this exhibition, the visitor might just as easily gain the impression of standing before a romantic landscape from a bygone era, as of being faced with a futuristic painting from the world of science fiction. This feeling of temporal disorder stems from a meticulous combination of the various sources that inspire the artist. He first evokes the meticulously laid-out gardens of Italian Renaissance frescos such as those of the Magi Chapel by Benozzo Gozzoli (1420-1497), a pupil of Fra Angelico. He then mentions ancient Asian art, citing Don Yuan (934-962) or Ni Zan (1301-1374) before referring to science fiction stories from the last century by Kafka, Lovecraft and Philip K. Dick amongst others.
The seemingly simple task of painting clouds and trees in natural colours, is transformed into a complex process involving a wide range of possibilities concerning the representation of landscapes. Inspired by this diversity, the artist plays with our sense of reality: he distorts time and the perception of elements in the very place where the eye expects to find what it is familiar with. In Jason Saager's paintings, everything seems out of control, on a beautiful winter, spring or summer day.
These temporal superimpositions extend to the artist's working process: he combines monotyping - a technique that precludes any form of reworking or retouching - with painting, which calls for a slower and more controlled approach. He begins with a monotype, applying oil paint to a large sheet of transparent acrylic and then transfers the image to paper using his own bodyweight as a printing press. These unique prints form the sketches that allow him to begin painting. He proceeds using multiple brush-stokes, generating density, opacity and varying transparency across the depicted landscape.
The complexity of these imaginary worlds remains secret in the exhibition. Far from the density of today's cities, Intermediate Worlds offers a possibility of escape: visitors are captivated by the radiance of a strikingly beautiful nature, penetrated by an almost magical luminosity. A precious refuge from the disharmony of today's landscapes. Faced with the frightening prophecies of 20th century dystopian narratives - of which Jason Saager is particularly fond - the artist has created a resolutely contemporary or even futuristic body of work, that conveys the hope of a better and enchanted future.