ODY SABAN, A SPRING RITUAL


Ody Saban is not a painter like the others. An outsider, a visionary artist, she creates an art that is unique, and unlike anything one can find in the usual galleries of Paris or New York. A rebellious mind, she remains untamed, like a wonderful and lustful Bengale tiger. With her brush, she creates a unique and haunting galaxy of images that burst the frame of the canvas and burn like a bonfire.


Ody belongs to the great Feminine/Surrealist tradition, with her own style, nourrished by Oriental myths and utopian dreams. Born in Istanbul in a Sephardic Jewish family, living for several years in Paris - after a stay in Israel and a long visit to New York - she is a nomadic and cosmopolitan spirit, always open to new experiences, new cultures, new discoveries.
Her paintings bring to life a disquieting fairy tale, a delicious celebration of Eros, an imaginary universe which partakes both from the Thousand-and-One Nights - a tale inside of a tale inside of a tale, in an infinite loop - and from medieval illuminations, where little devils and witches celebrate, with unbridled joy, the Spring Ritual. Associating watercolors and Indian ink, her works have the luminosity, the transparency and the glow of ancient stained-glass windows.


The subversive surrealist aspiration expresses itself in her paintings through mad love, the insolence of desire, the erotic circumvolutions of bodies that embrace each other, the burning fusion of sexes. Her baroque poetry fills every corner of the canvas with a fabulous array of strange and lively creatures.


Ody Saban's colours - sensual reds, serpentine greens, ottoman blue enamels, poisonous yellows - contribute to give her painting a magic quality that seduces, disturbs and bedazzles the onlooker.
" Make love not war " seems to be the imperative message of many of her paintings. The utopian dream of universal love and peace, as imagined by the ancient Biblical prophets, the powerful call by Isaiah - "no nation shall raise its sword against other nation" - is at the core of Ody's art. Her colourful and sensual hymn to love and tenderness is the plastic expression of such an utopia.


This is why she is so fascinated by the Mayan Indians from Chiapas, Mexico, and their leader, the mysterious "Subcomandante Marcos", whose insurgent Zapatista Army decided to replace the gun by the pen, and the bullets and hand grenades by poems, manifestos and tales.


Her paintings peacefully bring together in the same brush of colour Jewish and Egyptian myths, Biblical and Muslim symbols. She unites, in a same synchretic embrace, Lilith, the mythological Jewish rebellious women, and Isis, the Egyptian goddess of fertility. Nothing is stranger to her mind than any sort of religious, ethnic or national narrowness.
Her art is playfully human, erotically universal, poetically sexual, and knows of no borders. Through her colours run all the rivers of the Earth.


Michael Löwy
Research director in sociology, CNRS (National Center for Scientific Research), Paris. Author of - among other books - Redemption and Utopia. Libertarian Judaism in Central Europe, Stanford University Press, 1990.