The Work of Olivier de Sagazan

Born in the Congo and based in France, Olivier de Sagazan integrates photography, painting, sculpture and performance to create his mesmerising and existential work.  Most famous for ‘Transfiguration’, a series in which he layers and moulds simple materials on his own skin and in his sculptures to create an incredibly vivid and visceral experience for his audience.  Evoking an incredible sense of violence and destruction without actually causing any damage or harm, Sagazan creates an unsettling but incredibly moving body of work  that involves building up layers of clay and paint on his face and body before hacking, cutting, wiping and drenching it in order to achieve disfigurement and transformation.  He uses jerking and contorted movement to exaggerate this sense of animalistic escapism.  This destruction and reinvention of self reveals a primal desire to break away from the physical world with a childlike inventiveness.  This sensitive and detailed yet brutal manifestation describes an exploration of the body and of the senses, free of social constraints or identifiable features of status, culture or convention.  Sagazan has said of his work “I am interested in seeing to what degree people think it’s normal, or even trite to be alive”.  Nightmarish and compelling, the artist moves between frenzied, thrashing chaos, manically stretching and shedding the clay on his face and he flails.  This movement is then slowed down and his actions become precise, smooth and calculated, alomst balletic.  He adds parts of his sadistic make-up in an articulated, deliberate manner, drawing marks and features before obliterating or smearing them away.  This performance is filmed and his actions exadurated by the speeding up and slowing down of the film while amplifying the sound of his breathing, interrupted by intermittient shrieks and cries.  It makes for invigorating and unpredictable viewing.

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