PRESS RELEASE Mark Sadan 'Luminous Moments', Dimbola Lodge, Freshwater Bay, Isle of Wight, July 7th-August 28th 2000
Renata Rainer, Guest Curator from the USA writes that "Luminous Moments originate in Mark Sadan's Dream World, a world wherein he conjures up images corresponding to deeply felt emotions". In giving shape to his inspiration, Mark selects dancers, models, and friends, then collaborates with them in searching for the appropriate setting, space and atmosphere for a dramatic interaction. What evolves spontaneously is captured by the artist, in his words "as a passionate witness". In all the groupings of photographs represented in this solo exhibition, elements of nature, most often water, trees and grasses are tightly interwoven with the human form in motion or at rest. Although Mark focuses on aspects of the figurative, rather than on portraiture in his allegorical work, his creative process and aims are reminiscent of Julia Margaret Cameron's.
Writing in her "Annals of My Glass House", 1874, she declared: "I long to arrest all beauty that came before me...". In her pioneering photographs of the 1860's and 70's she sought to unite matter and spirit by evoking mysterious, poetic moments of light and shadow. "Piercing through the outward appearance to the very Soul of the individual" was Cameron's primary aspiration.
A unique experience of light is also at the heart of Mark Sadan's romantic contempory work. Knowing its power to form and transform his subjects, he calls upon the viewer to penetrate veils of light and the deep shadows of his images to reach the core of his metaphors.
Not only is Mark an artist who intuitively chooses the significant point of view, precise detail and timing for every moment he frames with his camera, but he also diligently applies his talents to the creation of the final photographic print. Judiciously selecting from the rich arsenel of films, developers and printing techniques available to the present day photographer, Mark executes the series "From The Ancient Meadow" using black and white infrared film for its other-worldly effect. "By the Orders of Elysium" a shimmering series of images are rendered as ch?????genic prints. For "Leslie at Nine Months" Mark chose brown-tinted C Prints, a method he also favoured for the mythical series "The Secret Glade". While the black and white images "In an English Pond" and "Caitlin on her Rug" were photographed using triax negative film. Visualising the warmth and beauty of these images, Sadan printed on Portriga Rapid Fible-based paper, he worked with Polaroid's Pola-Pan black and white slide film to capture the mysterious, minimalist "White Angel" series.
Experimentation with all photographic materials is obviously very important to Mark as he searches for diverse textures and tones to express what he imagines. At all times he pays close attention to the effects of size and scale in the presentation of his visual ideas. Toward that end he selects from a variety of formats ranging from small to large prints, which may be viewed??? Either singly or arranged in suitable groupings of two or more.
Always it is his passion which leads Mark on a journey of seeking and discovering the theme and the process for realising the images we see.
This lyrical solo exhibition, sponsored by the Julia Margaret Cameron Trust at Dimbola Lodge, offers a wide selection of vigorous, evocative images which invite the viewer to be an active participant. Only through a genuine dialogue between artist and audience can the pictures be truly complete. As such they will inspire an aesthetic experience to remember."
Dimbola Lodge is open to the public 10am-5pm Tues-Sun incl.
Arts Section The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection,
Madeleine M. Nicols, January 15th 1999
Mark Sadan has a photographer's eye for dance and his eye is drawn to the beauty of spirit in every image he presents. For him, dance seems to an irresistable light he joyfully captures, much as he would if he were photographing remarkable flowers. Because of his sensitivity, the image he gives to us helps us see what we otherwise would miss.
This exhibition presents photographs of dancers who have inspired Sadan. The dancers are classical in varied ways, from the most highly trained ballet artists to dance forms of India thousands of years old, from portrayals of Shakespeare's Juliet to entertaining shows and the can-can, and from the professional theatrical proscenium to the royal court areas in Papua New Guinea. Interestingly children are represented throughout, dancing as Isadora Duncan would, or training as gymnasts. Just as the forms of dance and the ages of the dancers vary, so do the places where the photographs were taken. Westchester's Mt. Kisco and Tarrytown are as likely a locale for Sadan to see that special quality of a dancer as is London or the Far East. Sadan presents here a blue series and a series in red. Other photographs he has enhanced by using rice paper or by adding elements with his own artistic hand. All these techniques help bring the viewer to a place of beauty, as Sadan reaches out to show us the extraordinary dancers he has seen.
Sadan utilizes dance as his visual content. Yet, it is the artistic senses generally that are presented, not merely one on the performing arts. The dancer, whether in the midst of motion or posed in the gesture of a moment of stillness, is the conduit Sadan champions. He is right to love them, as he so obviously does. With each photograph, the vison he sees of beauty and strength and spirit is conveyed.
Arts Section Gannet Newspaper, The Journal News, Georgette Gouveia, January 14th 1999
There are few things more difficult to photograph than dance. Like the sports photographer, the dance photographer is constantly at the mercy of movement. Blink, and you may miss the shot of a lifetime. Try to micro-manage the action, and you lose the kinetic quality.
Small wonder, then, that there are few great dance photographers. Martha Swope and Steven Caras are among them. And now we can add to the list Ossining's Mark Sadan, whose longtime love affair with ballet and modern dance gets the generous tribute it deserves in an exhibit at the Northern Westchester Center for the Arts in Mount Kisco through Jan. 25th.
Sadan's works - which date from the late 1980's and range from studio scenes of the Isadora Duncan Youth Ensemble (the NWCA's resident student company) to performance shots of the English National Ballet - have great charm. One black-and-white photo shows a member of the Youth Ensemble smiling over one shoulder, a jaunty flower in her hair. The original followers of modern-dance priestess Isadora Duncan were known as "Isadorables". Looking at this photograph, you understand why. You can also see a gamin quality in Sadan's studies of members of the National Ballet School in Riga, Latvia. Here baby ballerinas beam as they point their toes prettily and lean in eagerly as a classmate chatters. Such scenes capture the Joie de vivre that is also part of this most disciplined profession.
The best photographs in the show depict Tamara Rojo - a principal dancer at the English National Ballet and a Sadan friend - in moments from the company's production of "Swan Lake." (Proceeds from a selection of these photographs benefit Friends Without A Border, a charity that aids young Asian Land-mine victims.)
To see Rojo's Swan Queen swooning in the arms of her prince is to know the rapturous surrenders of ballet. Thanks to photographers like Sadan, we have such moments forever.
The Gazette Elizabeth Rockwell, artistic director + founder of Rondo American Dance Theatre, Nov 14-20 1997
The major part of the show
is devoted to large color photographs and smaller B/W photographs taken
at the Riga Ballet School, Latvia. Of course, the photography is beautiful,
but the charm of these children, one moment serious and ever dedicated
to the daily bar work - the pulled out stretch of the leg, the pointed
toe and the epaulment of the arms, and in another moment, closed in a group,
heads together in their private whispered joke - creating a theatre of
children. Especially memoriable is the expression of a lovely 13-year old
girl looking out from under a sweetly curved arm with the longest legs
and the beautifully stretched out spines right through their long necks
almost past the top of their heads.
'The Blue Series' featuring dancers from Ossining-based Westchester Ballet Company (directed by Jean and Beth Logrea) and the Mid-Atlantic Ballet Company were Degas inspired both in the romantic blue misty quality and in the flurry of be-ribboned toe shoes and wispy tutus appearing and disappearing into the 'wings'. Also of interest from the Mid-Atlantic Ballet; the B/W photo of Oberon reaching for Tatiana, with attendants pulling in opposite directions while on the floor rows of children in archaic design waving their arms in another horizontal line. From still another dance world is the Ducansive Molly Daly standing beside a pillar, as in ancient Greece, and the amazing Prima Ballerina Lauren Cooksen, posed in an unbelieveably arched arabesque at the studio bar of the Northern Westchester Centre for the Arts.
Most experimental and intriguing is the series of photographs titled 'Mur Madchen' which focuses on a young woman photographed against a haunting, abandoned industrial backdrop. What is most startling is the process. Fragmented irregular pieces of beige sculptured stone are dropped into a textual blue, sometimes liquid and sometimes dappled, like blue flowers.
In one photograph the total figure of a girl runs through the grass. In another, the top half of her body has fallen from an unseen bottom half and, as her back and head bend downward, her hands reach forward almost in prayer and then dive into the water. In still another, pieces of her back twist completely away from the direction of the hips and legs and appear like bones preserved in centuries of ice.
This show is well worth seeing. Mr Sadan has not only captured the movement, the character, and the drama of the moment, but the far fetched places are completely self-evident within each photograph. In some of his pictures the atmosphere is the subject.
Weekender The Cornishman, Frank Ruhmund, August 21 1997
A person with an abiding
passion for photography, [Sadan] somehow manages to keep his ardour for
his medium under a tight rein, never becoming self-indulgent, always allowing
the image he makes to speak to the viewer, directly and simply, without
fuss or pretension of any kind.
The regard he has for his subject matter is paramount. In artistic terms, whether just sketching, doodling, almost chipping or carving with his camera, Mark Sadan conveys a sense of the bond which he creates and encourages between himself and his model, one can all but hear the dialogue between them, while underlining her or his status as equal.
Deryck Roberts, Studio Art Gallery, Kingston, Jamaica, March 6 1997
From what I have seen, I
feel Mark's work captures that decisive moment when the brain sends a signal
to the body-heat signaling growth, monochrome becomes color, lightness
balancing volume, a sort of continuous creation which is deathless, all
bathed in his own special light which is a kind of spiritual evolution.
No matter what sort of edifying sentiments I express about Mark's work,
they are what is known as 'Declarations of Intent'. If I had to say which
is telling the truth about society, a speech by a photo editor or the actual
photographs, I should believe the photographs. So in believing these photographs
which have to do with dance or the essence of the physical force, let us
appreciate the amazing range and balance of creation and Mark's experience
with visualizing fragility and how he treats and plunges into the miracle
of the wisdom of light.
This landmark exhibition is just cause for celebration and if we penetrate and understand some of its secrets, this body of work could influence a generation of photographers and we may start discarding some of the unnecessary studio props, most of which only feed alien vision, and start to grapple with our own magical light, thereby strengthening our own unique way of seeing our environment from our point of view.