An exhibition of new work by Sasha Chaitow
14th – 23rd October 2017
Reviewed by William Rose
This exhibition, previously shown earlier in the year in Corfu, has a sojourn, most fittingly, in Glastonbury, at the Glastonbury Galleries. There is a an excellent, fully illustrated and detailed online catalogue which can be obtained with price list from the artist, so that interest and acquisition can continue for the collector after the physical ending of the show: firstname.lastname@example.org . Her website is: www.sashachaitow.co.uk
I can think of no other artist at present who encourages the experience of engagement with art with as much enthusiasm and endeavour as Sasha Chaitow. This she can do, not only through the medium of visual art, but also as a most adept communicator as an academic, writer and lecturer. It is, indeed, the whole package and this reminds me of the fin de siècle period and the heyday of Symbolist Art, when making art, but also writing and conversing about it, was so much part of the creative life. The Symbolists were also a literary group, and visual artists and writers were joined together in an intense pre-occupation with ideas.
The fundamental feature of Symbolist art is just that – an idea. And then from there to express the idea in such a way that the viewer – importantly for Chaitow – the participant – will also have ideas. For them to be the same as those of the artist is not the primary concern, but to share an intensity and questioning thought, is the aim.
Sasha Chaitow always describes herself as a ‘neosymbolist’. How surprising it is that there are not more artists making use of that title. Contemporary Symbolist could perhaps be an alternative one. Whatever the title, she is deeply in the tradition of the communication of ideas (and for her, I would expect this to include emotions) that the Symbolists were so responsible for substantiating as an artistic genre.
She is an expert, indeed, perhaps the expert on the work of Joséphin Péladan, the French mystic, writer and promoter of the arts, who was one of the primary motivating figures during the late 19th Century and fin de siècle period of Symbolism. Like him, she shares the view that the greatest aim of art, should be to transform.
Her paintings for this ‘Stained by the Light’ exhibition are powerful, complex and clearly come from deep within her own emotional and spiritual life. It is, in the true sense of Symbolism, imagery from the inner world, expressed in an intricate, provocative, arrangement of images, all of which we recognise, but due to their juxtaposition, have to wonder about and imagine.
I am completely in accord with her readiness to describe her own thoughts about each work in writing. In her exhibition and exhibition catalogue, one gains a rich sense of the ideas which seek expression in her work.
I enjoy too her love and use of the creatures of nature (not only human ones). Her liking for the imagery of crows for instance, and these provide ready keys to open up the collective unconscious and the more primitive elements within it. It is so necessary for us to be primitive, as well as sophisticated, in looking at art such as this.
Sasha Chaitow has been ‘stained by the light’ of images; the lasting effect of a painting that is experienced not just be the eye, but by the psyche. She wishes the viewers of her work to share that experience and has put heart and soul into bringing this about.
If you have missed the Glastonbury exhibition, do not be deterred as you can contact the artist and receive the exhibition on line.