Mirlea Saks

My Scaintings – 3D paintings – wryly celebrate American life from my perspective as an immigrant. They combine painting, sculpture and words (as embedded or accompanying text) with influences from media including advertising, film and graphic novels.

My work is tactile. Often, seeing it isn’t enough; people want to touch it. I encourage this.

All my work suggests narratives that breathe meaning and movement into intuitions which would otherwise remain abstract and static. I encourage viewers to imagine the backstories and possible endings of my narratives. This dynamic sense is reinforced by giving a work multiple parts, often free-standing or bursting out of the usual rectangular confinement. The relative positioning of a work’s parts is very significant for me.

My stories are palimpsests, with layers of alternatives to my preferred narratives. I’m often surprised by being shown a story in one of my works that I hadn’t seen.

Most of my work is non-representational. Stories needn’t be literal.

I don’t see interpreting art as only the audience’s prerogative. Why shouldn’t artists provide leadership in directing audience engagement? I call myself a Directivist. Neither artist nor audience is passive. I seek dialogue, interaction. In film (and comics), words and images work together; similarly, my titles aren’t labels but pointers. My side texts aren’t curatorial notes but narrative doors. I offer you stories that are new, yet (as good stories always are) familiar. The artist leads you along a path. Your discoveries there are your own.

Mirlea Saks, “The American Dream: and lo, they went forth, and built their nation bigly”. 2-piece, acrylic on canvas. 96″ x 72”

My titles almost always come first. I choose a story, then decide how to illustrate it. Rarely do I buy or make a canvas without knowing its purpose. An exception is The American Dream. It was a time when I was feeling sorry for myself and needed a big challenge to take my mind off Me. The initial result, a textured white work called The Blizzard, didn’t satisfy me, so I went deeper and found another story, about my coming to the US from apartheid South Africa and finding that the Land of the Free, too, had problems including excess, class and poverty. Having the images on two canvases suddenly became important, reinforcing the haves/ have-nots split. The size of the work acquired new meaning.

Mirlea Saks, “Rat Race”, 6-piece. acrylic on canvas, 63″ x 77”

Out of the oppressive environment of the overcrowded masses, the darkness of poverty and the freneticism of just coping, the ranks of the less fortunate thin out. Eventually the so-called winners of life’s rat race come to dominate. Here it was critical for me to show the winners as aloof from the hoi polloi elsewhere on the canvas. As a rectangular unit wouldn’t have sufficed,  I consider this piece a Scainting, a term I invented  to describe a hybrid work that was neither a conventional painting in high relief nor a sculpture.

Mixed. Acrylic on board. 42 x 30”

Possessing the basic building blocks of life doesn’t justify complacency. Life demands that simply to exist we exert effort and take responsibility for all facets of our own development. How much have you managed to put together so far?

Mirlea Saks, Serving Suggestion”, acrylic on canvas, 19″ x 19”

The stacked units in Serving Suggestion give concrete substance to an abstraction, in this case food spilling over an implied table. The gold underlay speaks of excess.

Mirlea Saks, “Group Therapy”, acrylic on canvas, 36″ x 40”

Each unit is linked to its neighbor with a continuing motif. The group shares a color, but is it searching for a hero, or is that an outsider trying to conform?

The two-color patterns here are muted so the piece can be seen as a whole without distraction from the individual squares, entitled as they are to their own spaces, and despite the ambiguity suggested by the placement and size of the oddities within.