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Joel Sager Painting of Armadillo
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Inspired by the Midwestern Life
Joel Sager’s paintings and mixed-media work reflect on rural Midwestern life. But don’t confuse his thought-provoking art with generic barnyard scenes. His work is concerned with juxtaposition: the paradoxes of sad and euphoric, of old and new, or interior and exterior. He considers all of his paintings portraits, even those of inanimate objects.
Joel’s first series focused on agrarian scenes, but his more recent work has shifted from landscapes to the people and things that comprise Midwestern Americana. “I thought it would be interesting to explore the whole idea of rural life—what’s going on inside a farmhouse,” he says.
Consider the image of a child’s molar resting on a doily. Inspiration for this painting came when Joel found a small paper bag of his teeth at his mother’s house. Struck by both the warm-hearted sentiments and creepy connotations of saving teeth, he entered the idea in his sketchbook. Several months later, the painting was on display at Perlow-Stevens Gallery in Columbia, where he is an associate curator.
Attracted to the repetition and rhythm of wallpaper, Joel began integrating already-rendered materials into his work. After sketching a subject’s outline, he lays down a collage (wallpaper, paper grocery bags, or newspaper) that exposes the negative space of his subject. A wash of roofing tar ages and darkens the piece. As Joel works with oil pigment and palette knives, he scrapes away and adds anew, using this dialogue between creation and destruction to comment on rural Midwestern living.
Visit www.perlow-stevensgallery.com for more information.