Analia Saban → Interview

Usually we start our interviews with: “could you tell us a little bit about your practice?” But I think we’ll discuss and answer this question throughout the whole interview. To start, maybe introduce yourself briefly.

About thirteen years ago, I became a university Art Student. Then, about eight years ago, I was no longer a university Art Student, so it made sense to get a new label: Artist.

You studied under John Baldessari, one of the most important conceptual and media-based artists. How is his influence mirrored in your work?

He has influenced several generations of artists, and I am fortunate to be in one of those generations. His influence is simple and yet difficult to pinpoint — as a teacher John would give us one assignment: “Do whatever you want.”

Your method of working has been described as both artistic and scientific, always in search of the very element that makes a picture a picture. Do you complete this search each time you move on to your next project? If so, what in your opinion is this element? Or is this search in itself a never-ending project?

I find pictures to be endless, at a micro- and macro-cosmic level. Sounds like a never-ending project, for me at least. My share of exploration will probably only end when my end arrives.

There is a certain dismantling process of artistic production—and visualization thereof—that is evident in your work. You also expore the relationship between the organic and the structural. How is this translated in your work, on a technical level?

I am interested in our relationship to technology, to structures, and to the architecture around us. Only with these structures do we allow our feelings to emerge: a body to love, an airplane to explore, a pencil to draw.

While your paintings could easily be understood as sculptures, you are primarily experimenting with “painting” and “photography.” Browsing your portfolio, one spots your usage of painting genres such as still lives, nudes and portraits. Is your intention to comment on the fundamental picture-making elements such as form, color, texture and ground; or is it rather to test the limits of what a painting signifies in contemporary art practice/history?

I am perplexed by some recurring topics that artists seem to need to paint over and over again. I haven’t been able to reach a conclusion yet about why this is. But, in the meantime, I thought I would search for one by painting this recurring subject matter myself over and over again.

Your work sometimes uses vibrant colors; other times you use only black, white and gray. When and how do you decide to use color, and how do these elements interact among themselves?

I think the use of color needs to be somehow justified in the work. Sometimes it is clear that the work needs it; other times, the form seems sufficient.

Along the line of exploring common genres and clichés, you are also challenging certain ideas of display within each medium you use. What is the conceptual framework that underpins your active interest in materiality and the display of those materials?

I think there’s a lot of territory to explore between media—between painting and sculpture, painting and photography, photography and printmaking, etc. These are media that we are used to seeing displayed in a certain way. It’s interesting to see what happens when those conventions are challenged.

In 2011 you started analyzing materials from a psychological point of view, rather than the previous scientific one. How and why did this development take place?

I think it has to do with growing up: gaining confidence to share our individual perception of the world around us.

How are the conceptual changes transferred to your work?

I think the work became less ‘mechanical’ and more personal. Hopefully, this transition added more layers of meaning and experience.

Your latest exhibition at Sprüth Magers is concerned with art and the domestic space. Can you outline the concept of this exhibition a little further?

I was thinking of objects we interact with every day: a trash bag, a bed sheet, a curtain, a bathroom sink. How do these ordinary objects relate to the extraordinary Art object? The result was a body of work in which these domestic objects were re-constructed: a trash bag, which is usually polyethylene, was made out of acrylic paint (another poly derivative); canvas, which is usually stretched onto stretcher bars, was re-contextualized and transcended into a curtain; or a bathroom sink, simply turned on a different axis, was mounted on a linen covered panel and hung on the wall.

2013 started off with exhibitions in London and Berlin. What’s next?


Analia Saban
01 / 07