WRITTEN BY: LUCIA PASQUALE
EDITED BY: CASEY GOCH
PHOTOS BY: DAVID BENHAIM
With an array of solo and group exhibitions throughout the city, as well as collaborations with L.A. printmaking institutions such as The Lapis Press, Gemini G.E.L and Mixografia, Analia Saban’s work has secured itself a place in the revitalization of contemporary art being made and shown in Los Angeles. Even her studio is a gem embedded in the historical fabric of the L.A. art scene. Originally the studio space of artists such as Michael Balog, William Wegman and John Baldessari, it has been passed down over the last few decades, through the hands of renowned artists, tons of wild 70s parties, and into Analia’s lap. “It really has a great history. What’s nice about it is we all lived here at some point,” she recalls. “It is a commercial space so we're not supposed to have lived here, but I think there’s something powerful that happens when one lives and works in the same space. In this case, I feel connected to them for having shared the same experience.”
We met with Analia in her Santa Monica studio, amidst the throes of creativity, to learn more about the important things in life: coffee and art, of course.
Saban, a Buenos Aires native, found her way as an artist during university. Frustrations with the commercial emphasis in her film studies led her to take visual art classes. It was then, she said, “I realized art was really the place where I could do the great art without any limits and the moment I switched I felt like I had found my home. I had no idea what I was getting into or how I was going to survive financially. I really had no clue how art worked as a profession but I had a sense of fulfillment that has stayed with me until today.”
Scenes of experimentation with materials and techniques are boundless here; Analia’s fascination with the relationship between technology and art in modern life fills the room. She breaks down and literally takes apart the mundane everyday with items like an electric toothbrush, where she drew out every component connected via one continuous line for a recent print edition. Through each piece she creates, our own obsessions with technology end up exposed.
Analia’s art functions as an engaging conversationalist, bouncing ideas off its audience, and never shying away from an opportunity at something new. In a new series that will be shown on the second floor of her new show, Analia challenges the conventions of digital printing and poses the question of what is a print and whether an image, specifically 16 images of linen slowly unravelled, then inkjet printed onto a sheet of paint is a print, or is it a painting? A performance even? Other works of her’s question what it is exactly that defines a sculpture or a painting. It is an ongoing game of question and answer, call and response.
Needless to say, Analia Saban is all about the dialogue. Part of what opens her up to these insightful conversations with the present is her constant conversation with the past. “I like to have tools available from all different times and periods,” says Analia. “So it is very important to me to have a darkroom where I develop photographs, or this loom for traditional weaving techniques. We do a lot of sculpture, casting stone and concrete. We also have a woodshop, and we have a whole set-up to make encaustic paint that uses beeswax and resin from trees. So we are using really traditional techniques from Pompeii times or Greek times. We also have this laser machine which is as high tech as one can get for precision cutting. For me, technology is very inspiring.” Her reverence for that of the old, coupled with her infatuation with what is new, gives Analia’s work the ability to emanate curious wisdom from within.
Shreebs: How do you take your coffee?
Analia Saban: Espresso only, I recently developed a milk allergy so I had to let go of my cappuccinos.
S: Name something you love and why you love it.
A.S: So many things come to mind, [but] I’m having quite an affair with my house. It’s a historic house from 1890 in West Adams. It has taught me to appreciate craftsmanship more than ever. It’s built with a lot of love and detail, but it needs a lot of care. I have to sacrifice for it. I have to sacrifice other pleasures because I have to repair things all the time, but then it gives me shelter in return.
S: What would you say is key to your process?
A.S: Well, I’ve been practicing psychoanalysis for about ten years. It’s been a constant space for introspection. And, it’s quite endless; the moment that I think I am done with it, I find a new level.
S: What would you say could be your dream project?
A.S: I think context is important, so to be showing side-by-side with artists that I admire is always on my dream radar.
S: Where would you like to live?
A.S: I’ve found my home, I’m grateful to be where I am.
S: On your deathbed, what would your last meal in L.A. be?
A.S: Ebi Renkon Mocchiri-yaki at Morinoya in Little Osaka, which is a pan-fried renkon (lotus root) and mountain yam paste with shrimp and ponzu radish sauce. It sounds exotic, but it’s a simple, well-balanced dish. I wouldn’t consider myself a foodie, as I’m happy with a good soft-boiled egg on toast. But I’ve also been impressed with Destroyer in Culver City.
S: Can you tell us a bit about your show that is now up in LA?
A.S: The title is ‘Folds and Faults;’ it is a show that I have been working on for about two years. It is at Sprüth Magers and will run until August 19th. I’ve been showing with the gallery for over 10 years. At first, they were in Munich, but then they moved to Berlin, then they opened a gallery in London, and now they are in L.A. too. It is pretty great to have a European gallery come to Los Angeles, they were considering going to New York but they decided on L.A instead. The gallery is across the street from LACMA at 5900 Wilshire. It is my first exhibition in L.A. in five years