Saddo’s painting Thanatos
Romanian born contemporary painter Saddo makes work that is resplendent with mythological creatures, brilliant color, and expressive line. The Bucharest based artist has a labile way with style, traversing different mediums and ways of making, coloring, an expressive science fiction inflected genre that also seems partially engaged with the Romanian folk art tradition.
Much of the artist’s work has a sense of the 21st century baroque, and works like Nergal blend humor with the largesse of enigmatic deities and hybridity. There is so much power compressed into these spaces, the tendrils of jungle like plants, rigidly posed creatures with their emblematic displays of regality, the presence of the ephemeral quality of life, reminders of mortality constant, and yet one remains engaged strangely in staring at one single blossom in the confines of a tiny section of the canvas, surrealistic leaves poised electrically against a black background…..
Still other works seem to be a sort of contemporary memento mori, the Coffin series is particularly powerful, the day of the dead like iconography, emblazoned with a textile like patterning, broken up by interlocking vignettes, and symbolic objects. Earlier work like Scientist reminds one of the surreal yet deeply personal worlds of the imaginative Mexican painter Remedios Varo.
Robust and strange, beautiful and surrealist in a flawlessly elusive manner, Saddo’s oeuvre, has an enduring power to it. Painterly and full of delightful and often disturbing references, this is a tableaux of intersecting beauty, nightmares, fantasies and mythologies, inverted, mixed up and brocaded across the canvas in paint….
It seems in the end, that what stylistic term we might use to try to understand this contemporary artist’s work falls short, and in fact, really matters not at all. The borrowing, reinterpretation, and imprinting has all gone through the maelstrom of artistic imagination and is as such, a deeply personal and complex iconography.
Saddo My Body is a Coffin
Saddo Coffin Series Painting
Paintings from the 2012 show The Golden Hours, Two Person Show with fellow artist Aitch, Calina Gallery, Timisoara, Romania.
The artist shares the process and ideas behind the show that include both large-scale in situ works as well as smaller pieces on found wood:
“The show explored our two different visions on time, memory and death, mine was a more detached / bookish vision, inspired by mythology and literature. I think it was the first time I painted big canvases. In terms of the small paintings on pieces of found wood, it didn’t take me that much time to work on them, but I think they look much more fresh, because I tried to use the texture and the background of the pieces of wood, and just add a few things, and I let myself inspired and guided by the material itself.”
Saddo Stranger in the Garden Series
Saddo’s Rabat Mural
Rosa: Please tell me more about the older paintings from 2013-14?
Saddo: These are pieces from a time when I used to experiment a lot with different backgrounds, textures, different pieces of wood that I would find in the street. I just grouped all of them together even though they’re not really connected, some of them are inspired by mythology, by Renaissance art, by hints of religion. One of them is a personal interpretation of the banishment from Eden, there’s a series of 4 paintings that play around with the symbolism of the playing cards and the four seasons, some of them explore different meanings and shapes of masks, and some of them are simply improvisations, where I would add different details and symbols, to create the feeling that they’re part of this dreamy world.
Paintings by Saddo from 2013-14
Rosa: I am interested in the way your murals often have Matisse like cut out style. Please tell me a bit about the Rabat Mural?
Saddo: The Rabat mural, made a couple of months ago, kind of reflects my new taste in art, illustration, murals, I’m trying to simplify the shapes, lose all the unnecessary detail, and just make it a little bit more fresh. The first time I tried something similar was for a Romanian mural festival, in Sibiu, together with my friend Pren – it was very challenging because of the straight lines, the way the composition is compartmentalized, and it requires a lot of measuring, calculating, before actually starting to paint.
You may visit the artist’s website to see more including additional paintings, commissions, murals, illustrations and collaborative projects.