Joan Mitchell Center AIR Program

Previous | Next

Raymond Saa

Maplewood, NJ
1997 MFA Grant Recipient

Artist's Statement (2013)

My work and the way I think about it has naturally evolved over the years.

There are many more aspects of myself that I can now recognize and accept; primarily ‘myself ‘and my ‘work’ are one and the same. My work is not ‘about something’ it is a reflection of me and therefore of what inspires me. The visual, auditory, and sensory minutiae that compete for daily attention is the inspiration to work. The way this is achieved is what my work is ‘about’.

I am not a literary person I am a visual person. This seems obvious but often explanations are demanded in words and for artists this can be a struggle if not a contradiction, as our forte is to explain the world visually and more often than not our weakness is words.

It was pointed out to me recently that the scale of my work often enough correlates with human dimensions; arms width and body height, this observation pleased me as painting and drawing for me is very physical and about the process and when I’m working well, very instinctive. I usually work on several pieces concurrently which means that I can ponder on one work whilst continuing to work on another and in that way they also inform or cross pollinate each other.

I have always made charcoal drawings and I am currently working on sculptural sewn paper works that involve the deconstruction of drawings and their reformation into layered sewn pieces. Larger sculptural work follows the same instincts as drawing and often involves drawing. Recent pieces involve layering of painted wooden panels into wall works.

I don’t feel that my work is especially conceptual but I am very influenced by the resilience yet delicacy of botanical subjects particularly when it comes in direct conflict with urbanity. There is something inevitable but equally magical about a tender vine pushing its was through tarmacadam and enveloping a man-made structure. I hope my work conveys this organic aggression however abstractly or even metaphorically it may be viewed. My thoughts on my own artwork are that by its very nature it becomes a deeply personal reflection of the artist, i.e. me that is to be read or shared by the viewer.

I am inspired to work in every way. I am passionate about it. There is never a lack of inspiration; the world is full of it. Of course I am interested in some things more than others, for instance botanical forms and their kinetic, quiet determination have always fascinated me. However, it is the act of work itself that is self-fulfilling. The gestural line is both independent of its creator and also completely belonging and I am satisfied that I do not have to seek a reason to work, rather that I am allowed to work.

  • Untitled, 2011, oil on wood, 80 x 60 inches.

  • Untitled, 2012, oil on canvas, 72 x 62 inches.

  • Untitled, 2013, oil on canvas, 60 x 51.5 inches.

  • Untitled, 2010, ink on sewn paper, 29 x 31 inches.

All works are copyright of the artist or artist’s estate.