Sacha Schwarz: Checking In
What are the issues and topics that most concern you at the moment that you are expressing through your art?
Like most of the people around me today, I am aware that we are going through a rather special period, a time when the whole of humanity, without distinction of ethnicity or religion, is faced with a global threat, the Coronavirus - a threat which imposes on us a new way of seeing things, different modes of behavior, and above all, and this is the most important for me, the awareness that we are not alone in this world; we are a part of all the men and women on this earth and we are surrounded by nature.
We cannot ignore nature, it is part of our existence and, moreover, our existence depends on it. I try to express through my artistic creations the gaze that man has on nature, and I try to represent this through an imagery which encompasses animals and plants, all, in a figurative way, to facilitate reading.
How has your work been affected by the events of the last six months?
The last six months have been difficult from a daily point of view, due to the various restrictions and due to the permanent threat, as well as the alarming news concerning our friends, families and acquaintances, and more generally the damage caused by the disease to all of humanity.
On the other hand, personally speaking, I found myself alone, with my family, far from any daily distraction and it allowed me to focus a lot more on my artistic work, which is rather a positive aspect of the events. For example, I took advantage of the additional time, the time which is usually dedicated to occupations of which I was deprived during this period, to do research and experiments in the field of my artistic work and the results, I think, are clearly visible.
Can you tell us a bit about what you’re working on at the moment and what your inspiration was?
For the last year I have been working on a new series of painting called “Dioramas”.
As Wikipedia says, “The Diorama is a presentation system scenario or staged an exhibition model (a historical character, fictional, animal…), making it appear in its usual environment.”
Inspired by this system, I decided to create a series of three-dimensional representations.
What strikes me most often in the dioramas is this small-scale model, as if we had a whole mini-auditorium for ourselves, as if we were Gulliver in an imaginary Lilliputian country.
The theme of animals and nature appears very often in the dioramas and probably seem to be one of the main reasons that pushes me currently to approach this system of pictorial presentation.
How have your plans for 2020 and beyond been changed?
Concerning my plans for 2020 there were of course changes - cancelled exhibitions, fewer audiences and fewer clients in my studio. However, it was also it was an enhanced time of self-concentration and a more productive period – with news ideas, new artistic approaches and increased desire to share my artistic experience with others.
How do you think the world will change as a result of Covid-19?
I don’t know how Covid-19 will affect our world, our way of life, our existence, but I sure have a lot of expectations. I hope that this disaster will lead people to pay more attention to their immediate surroundings, be it the people around them, animals, vegetation, nature in general, and to behave with more care and respect for our environment. At the same time, I would be delighted if the processes of rapprochements between members of families, communities and peoples, that appeared during this period, continue.
What are the lessons that need to be learned and behaviours that need to change as you reflect on our world at this time?
For me, the first lesson to be learned from what is happening today is that we cannot behave as if everything else besides us doesn’t matter. We live in an ecosystem where all the elements depend on each other and interact with each other, and if we are not careful, if we do not respect other people and the environment, the consequences will not be in our favor.
The second lesson to be learned from current events is the importance of peace between peoples and the reduction of ambient violence. If humans invested more in the research of well-being, rather than in the will to find destructive elements, they will be more able to solve problems like this pandemic. We must take advantage of this difficult moment to go back to basics, we must dive back into our common history, our past, our collective experience, and learn from it in order to improve our life. We must respect each other and try to be less self-focused, because we are all part of something bigger, that we do not always understand. So, we need to change some of our convictions and be more open to other’s opinions, we must be more flexible and less closed-minded, for we must be able to accept other points of view.
Based in Paris, France, Sacha Schwarz studied Fine Arts at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts de Paris, graduating in 1986. Since 1990, Sacha has had his studio at “Les Frigos”, in Paris, one of the largest centers in Europe for the creative arts. Deeply influenced by his two cultures (French and Jewish), Sacha is fascinated by intersections, contrasts, and contradictions.
His paintings express his zest for life, his awareness of its fleeting nature, and his amused take on the innovations of the modern world. His sources of inspiration are eclectic, from the touching sincerity of primitive African art to the gilt splendor of fourteenth and fifteenth century masterpieces, from the meanders of the Bible to the animals of the Garden of Eden, from Rembrandt and El Greco to Bruly Bouabré, Hundertwasser, and New Figuration.
Sacha explores a variety of techniques, pairing acrylic paint on wood with traditional gold, copper, and silver leafing, or adding relief to his compositions by superimposing wooden silhouettes. His works can be seen in France, Europe and the United States. He expresses his creativity through paintings, installations, and art events, as well as a graphic journal published almost daily on Instagram. He participated in THE BRIDGE, a CARAVAN peacebuilding exhibition that toured in 2015-2016 in the Middle East, Europe and the USA, featuring 47 premier Arab, Persian and Jewish contemporary artists.