Analia Saban, born in Buenos Aires, is a Los Angeles-based contemporary, experimental artist, whose work blurs distinctions between mediums – employing painting, sculpture, photography, architecture, and printmaking. Saban uses unconventional methods such as unweaving paintings, laser-burning both wood and canvas, and molding acrylic paint forms. She explores the art-making process itself and pushes the boundaries of specific materials to blur the distinctions between different mediums. She has scraped still-wet photographic prints; she has unwoven paintings to create sculptural forms from their threads; she has sealed a painted canvas in plastic to preserve the look of wet paint; and she has burned paper and canvases with a laser.
Saban was born in Buenos Aires and was marked forever by the 1992 bombing of the Israeli Embassy, which was close to her school. “I didn’t get hurt but a lot of my friends had blood on them. And I do think a lot of my work has to do with destruction but also fixing things, or trying to weave things – or keep things – together.” She studied film and video art at Loyola University in New Orleans for her B.A. For her master’s degree, she enrolled in the “new genres” program at U.C.L.A. where she began subverting the materials of art history.
She said that she felt directionless during this time and questioned the fact that art dealers were only interested in seeing paintings when they visited art studios. She collected over 100 paintings from thrift stores, rejected works of her fellow students’, and knockoff art from painting factories. She unraveled each canvas, rolling the threads together into a single, thigh-high ball. She showed this in her graduating exhibition “The Painting Ball (48 abstract, 42 Landscapes, 23 Still Lifes, 11 Portraits, 2 Religious, 1 Nude).” This work helped secure her first gallery show in Los Angeles and then with Spruth Magers Gallery in Munich in 2007.
Saban’s sculptural paintings combine organic and technological elements while exploring traditional notions about art through her reference to two-point perspective, closely associated with art created during the Renaissance. Her “Erosion (Geometric Cubes within Circle: Two-Point Perspective with Guidelines)” is an acrylic painting on canvas. However the canvas lifts away from its circular frame, giving the work a sculptural quality. After she draws on the canvas and then applies paint, she puts the painting through the laser-cutting machine. The parts of the canvas with the thickest layers of paint remain intact, while the areas with lighter applications of paint appear charred. This gives the texture of the work a delicate, burned lace effect.
Spruth Magers gallery in Los Angeles has shown her latest installation “Folds and Faults.” This is a series of draped and folded concrete pieces that involved the bending of a 1,000 pound slab of concrete in half without completely breaking it in two. Saban sees in this work “a connection to earthquakes – the way they cause city streets to buckle . . . “
Her work is in the permanent collections of LACMA, Hammer Museum, MOCA, and the private collections of the Rubells of Miami and Maurice and Paul Marciano in Los Angeles, whose inaugural show featured three of her works.