Portrait of a cartoonist: Sam Szafran
Art is about discovery, about emotion at all times. Each artist with his particular sensitivity touches our senses. This article is a tribute to a great artist who died a few days ago. An artist I had known late but whose work will continue to upset me.
Born in 1934 to Polish Jewish parents, Sam Szafran is a French artist who had worked with many personalities in contemporary art. Alberto Giacometti, Nicolas de Staël, Yves Klein, Joan Miro… A master in the art of pastel – he had more than 1600 pencils, Sam Szafran sails as much on figuration as on abstraction. Later, he combined pastel with watercolour. His favourite themes, the stairs, the workshop and the greenhouses, are exhibited in majestic large formats, creating a real metamorphosis of these objects.
A master of anamorphosis, he leaves a lively, dynamic work with a futuristic influence. Composed from different angles, the object comes to life to better surprise our eyes. Reality shifts through this troubled, disordered perspective to a more sensitive space. “You, at least, are trying to see things,” Picasso told him. To see a world shaken up, in the chaos ordered by the colours of its pastels or the softness of the foliage and the vegetable world nuanced by watercolour. He also made many drawings on animals – horses, rhinos – freely executed with charcoal. Discreet, the artist did not talk about his works. Although the Gianadda Foundation in Switzerland has been celebrating his talent for several years – a pavilion decorated with a ceramic staircase bears his name -, he is still little known to the general French public. A retrospective exhibition is already planned at the Musée de l’Orangerie in Paris to repair this error.
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