Thursday, 10 December 2009
Sargy Mann at Cadogan Galleries
This is the second time I go to see a show of Sargy Mann works. I first approached his work through the paintings of his wife from a show I saw two years ago, pictures I couldn't stop looking at, and slowly made my way through his landscapes.
Especially after reading his son's book on him and seeing his development over the years I am absolutely enthralled by this artist. What I find extraordinary is the way he can actually suck you into his paintings. When I look at his pictures, especially large landscapes, I find myself suddenly right in the spot where it was painted.
I have been thinking about why this happens, and I believe it is because they represent the sensation of "being there" more than the spectacle of the scene, and communicate this sensation to the viewer. Visually they are very much structured spherically, following the way the artist can/cannot see what surrounds him.
Generally the painters I admire the most are dealing with the problem of representation, the subject matter becoming secondary or incidental.
Mann's work is definitely about looking. With time what started as short-sightedness and astigmatism has become cataract and ultimately led to a corneal transplant. Mann is totally blind since 2005. He has always been a painter and always will be, and he is still producing the great works. His brushwork is confident and furiously fast, his colours like music.
At the beginning of his book there is a portrait done in 1963, when he had good eyesight, strikingly similar to one of his latest paintings of his wife from 2007.
Perhaps it is the effort to perceive the reality around him that makes his paintings so strong. "Seeing is subjective, you see in your brain, and I always saw at my best when I was painting", says Mann.
He is really one of those artists who is able to enhance our everyday life, the way we look at the reality around us.
Interviews and reviews:
The book Sargy Mann: probably the best blind painter in Peckham is also available on Amazon and I can't recommended it enough.