MARTIN SAAR: COLORS OF THE DAY
Curated by The Dept. of Signs and Symbols
Produced by Kau Academy
June 14 – July 5, 2015
Opening reception: Sunday, June 14, 5:00 – 7:00p.m.
The Dept. of Signs and Symbols is pleased to announce the exhibition: COLORS OF THE DAY, a solo exhibition by Martin Saar. The exhibition will feature a selection of 11 cm x 11 cm paintings on tile. For this body of work, Saar returns to abstraction from his previous focus on the figurative. Through an investigation into the manipulation of color, he examines the basics of optics and perception. COLORS OF THE DAY will be on view from June 14 through July 5, 2015. An opening reception will be held on Sunday, June 14 from 6:00 – 8:30p.m, accompanied by a special piano concert by the artist. This is the first time Saar will open his very personal ritualistic piano session to the public.
The tiles, originally having served as palettes, evolved into a series of studies in color. Saar pays respect to the old masters, looking to the brush strokes of Klimt, Picasso, and Van Gogh. While he had concentrated on color theory at the New York Academy of the Arts, in this body of work Saar is less concerned with the theory and instead moves towards the immediate, to feeling and experimentation with expression. In Saar’s words, the paintings “symbolize turbulence, the sound of the air and the color of light… Emotions – happiness, joy, tears, sadness, energy. They symbolize life and love.”
Gestural in brushstroke, impasto in technique, delicate in form, intimate in experience; Saar’s overwhelming intensity of color defies the physical limits of the minute tile. Saar studied music from a young age, and received his first lessons from his mother who taught the piano in Tallinn. Throughout the years, music became a central element in his practice, as he routinely begins his work with a piano session beforehand. In this series, Saar directly addresses and engages the relationships between the practice of music and of visual art. He explores the combinations that exist between colors in comparison to and in conjunction with that which can be created in musical arrangements. Together, they function as a musical composition, while individually each work is akin to a verse, a visual expression of relational tones – a burst of intervals, harmonies, and chords of color. Saar paints as he plays; his tactile and emotive approach to the surface and the piano are one and the same.
Creating a grid of color studies, the layers of paint work in conversation within the individual tile, as well as from one painting to the next. In bringing attention to these color variations and relations in parallel to those in musical composition, Saar reflects on the teachings of Josef Albers. As Albers states, “Such action, reaction, interaction—or interdependence—is sought in order to make obvious how colors influence and change each other; that the same color, for instance, —with different grounds or neighbors—looks different. But also, that different colors can be made to look alike.” Crucially, such could be said of the interactions between musical notes as well. Albers’ teachings focused on the importance of not only seeing color, but also on feeling the relationships between colors. Saar’s intimate color studies act as a visual diary, portraying his emotive sensibility. The work acts as a reservoir of feeling and sentiment. Sound echoes around Saar’s works, merges with them, and changes the terms of our engagement. From his exploration into the relations and parallels between musical tones and color, Saar moves into their resulting emotive content. That content is an extension of the acts of painting and playing… a swell of which comes crashing together into a myriad of colors.
Martin Saar (b. 1980, Tallinn, Estonia) currently lives and works between Tallinn and New York. Saar earned his MFA in drawing at the New York Academy of Art in 2014 after studying at Kevade Street Art School and graduating from the Estonian Academy of Arts in 2002. Saar’s practice encompasses mosaics, paintings and watercolors as well as digital collages and videos. A love for music and his background as a musician informs Saar's use of radical colors and expressive gestures. His tile series is an example of his evocative use of brushstroke condensed into a small scale while the large monochromatic paintings reflect on his memories of family life before Estonia’s independence in 1991. Saar gained recognition as an artist for his mosaic paintings of New York celebrities, which were featured in the New York Times. His work has been shown in 10 solo exhibitions and several group shows, as well as represented in the collections of Nancy Reagan, Empress Farah Diba Pahlavi, Aby Rosen and Matt Lauer, Diane von Furstenberg, Carolina Herrera and many others.