Color of Time
By: Ilya Gefter
At a first glance, Saniga may seem like a traditional painter of still lives, portraits and landscapes. But there is a mysterious intensity to his works. Imperceptible tensions transform conventional subject matter into deeply personal visions of the world.
There is something cryptic about the paintings. The artist himself is an unusual figure that does not fall into standard categories: a highly esteemed painter, and also a professor of Information Technology who has authored numerous articles on statistics and mathematical modeling. He lives on a farm in Pennsylvania but exhibits in Manhattan.
He paints rural views in the vicinity of his house. Fruits and vegetables that grow on his land, broken platters and old clothes are some of his still life characters. Saniga observes the world around him, but the pieces express more than shapes and colors of things. Painted in unpredictable yet balanced arrangements, still life objects evoke a passage of time as much as their own external appearance. Shells, vessels and shreds of pottery all speak of their age. The landscapes conjur sensations of human intervention, presence or abandonment.
Saniga’s subjects suggest stains of time and invite our prolonged contemplation. The paintings are not to be looked at quickly. Elusive subtleties of coloration and paint-handling unveil themselves gradually to the viewer. Lingering upon Saniga’s brushwork is like watching dust particles flowing through space and slowly settling on the objects. The muted coloration indeed gives a sensation of looking at the world through veils of dust. But this chromatic restraint only intensifies the enigmatic appeal of the still life forms and depths of the landscapes.
There is a vast cultural landscape of artistic traditions beneath Saniga’s representations of the visible world. Pictorial meditations on the motifs blend with a range of art-historical reveries. Memories of ancient Roman wall paintings, late Gothic and early Renaissance frescoes are evoked. More recent pictorial languages are incorporated into the work as well: Albert Pinkham Ryder, Morandi, Balthus, Vuillard, Georges Braque are some of the Modernist masters whose artistic visions inform Saniga’s landscapes and the still life arrangements. Centuries of cultural experience are condensed into small formats of the paintings and give them a monumental presence.
Each piece is far grander than its modest size and the sum of the objects it represents. Each piece is an immersion into subtle chromatic harmonies and centuries of visual wisdom. These are paintings to be lost in amidst the noise and havoc or our reality.