Donald Saaf

For the past 20 years I have been exploring the place where fine art and folk art intersect. My subject matter draws from the local experience of community, family and immediate surroundings as well as an internal dream place. Although some of the imagery is very personal, I am always striving for the universal. The figures in the pictures are simultaneously ‘me’ and a sort of ‘Everyman’.

I usually begin with a compositional idea, and once that is established, I let things grow organically. At times I approach a composition like a quilt, or even a stained glass window; breaking down the composition into luminous forms and shapes. I try to see the pictures simultaneously both for their ‘story’ and as pure abstraction. Often there are different layers in the paintings. Some of the figures will have several heads; one that seems more solid and others that look more transparent and ghostly, hinting perhaps at the passage of time or suggesting that reality is more pliable than we usually think. They might be a representation of the soul or perhaps just a symbol for the many levels of personal consciousness.

I’m interested in memory; the memory of place and experience. The memory of walking down a street imagining the view from a bird's eye view, while simultaneously seeing a house in the distance, noticing small objects on the ground and briefly experiencing other people’s lives as they pass by. It’s the moment that happens when the external world overlaps with the internal world.


Donald Saaf