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Art and life - Art critic Tom Jørgensen

Article by Tom Jørgensen, editor of Kunstavisen, Bachelor of Art History

Art and life

About Henrik Saars picture world:

There may be many reasons for painting figurative, but if there is, as in Henrik Saar's case, a close connection between life and work, it is an existential necessity. The stories Henrik Saar would like to pass on to us can simply not be conveyed in a another waythan through a recognizable imagery. And not any recognizable imagery. The inspiration comes from the old masters. From the Renaissance and the Baroque. From the time when the images were built based on carefully planned drawings transfered to the canvas to add layers on layers of pure colors in transparency untill the surface stand sparkling and shining like mother of pearl. Henrik Saar combines the lines and contours of the Florentine school with the Venetian cultivation of the color. The result is a unique, personal and above all a  uncompromising way to paint.

However, it would be wrong to call Henrik Saar's style too realistically. His images with their stylized contours, non-naturalistic abbreviations and often consciously skewed perspectives do not live up to the classic central perspective painting. Inspiration from pre-Columbian art, from Mexican masonry, from symbolism and surrealism and the generally dreamy and enigmatic atmosphere, results that Henrik Saar's images are not known as reality imitation. The reality that is being worked in his paintings, on the other hand, is the inner reality. The process of thoughts and feelings that the artist experiences in the artistic moment of life, experienced through a life of disease and violent personal upsets. Conversions so big and so painful that the painting has literally been a rescue plan for Henrik Saar. Here he has been able to process the chaotic feelings that have prevailed in his mind. Here he has been able to get them out and over on the canvas in a process that can only be described as healing. On the inevitable question of how a painting of such a distinctly private psychological character may be of general interest, one can answer that Henrik Saar, like the surrealists, believes that behind the pure personal feelings lies shared experience across time and place. A way to perceive the world, which is pre-linguistic, magical and mythical. A world of faith and hope, of pain, suffering and fear, of salvation and redemption. Everything tied together by a destiny, in most cases only half way conscious. It is therefore not coincidental that over Henrik Saar's paintings rests much of the mood found in Latin American literature. A mood of magic and fate and with a sensation we rarely find on our cooler Scandinavian latitudes. Often added a humor that can only be described as a carbon black with the splash of desperation that makes it really hot.

Henrik Saar's pictorial world, with his uncompromising seriousness and existential gravity, is of course hard to swallow for a part of a Danish audience who rarely encounter art that has anything to offer than formal experiments or superficial decorative qualities. That art can also deal with life and death, fate, faith and doubt makes many of us a little uncertain and reserved. However, if you give a slight drop in your usual viewing distance, you will experience a both artistic and human challenge in Henrik Saar's paintings. A challenge that will ultimately ideally make a difference in one's life.