Race Traitor Number 13-14

2001. U.S.A                                       

Penelope Rosemont

Ody Saban---

Surrealist and Outsider

Our magistery is a fiery form of light.

--- Mary Anne Atwood ( 1850 )

                          Like staring into the flames that give birth to a thousand and one dreams, the works of Ody Saban ignite the power of the imagination. They create a sensation of passionate pleasure. With the hypnotic quality one finds while gazing into the glowing, melting heart of a volcano, that power draws us inexorably, through our moth-like repressed desire to embrace the fire. . Hot colors flow, overrun by fantastic, erotic images in jet black ink that frolic and parade across our senses. In these rivers of liquid fire, women become birds, birds become lovers, lovers penetrate each other and become the Androgyne, whose elemental energy dwells at the core of our being.

                         To see the drawings and paintings of Ody Saban for the first time is astonishing. Faster than the speed of dreams the dialectics of masculine and feminine mirror the explosive combustion of fire and oxygen. If you’ve ever thought that you have “seen everything”, that there is nothing that will move you, that astounding surprises are no longer possible, that painting and drawing must sink into miserabilist minimalism and post-minimalism because there is no place for them to go, that there is “nothing new under the sun,” then you must see the work of Ody Saban. It will convince you that there are still immense unknown territories to be explored, unheard-of dreams to be dreamed, new worlds to be brought into existence, glorious and impassioned possibilities just beginning to unfold to your thousand newly unpeeled eyes.

                          One of the foremost painters in the surrealist movement today, Ody Saban was born in 1953 in Istanbul, Turkey, into a Sephardic Jewish family. Her mother, of Spanish origin, remarried a Muslim when Ody was seven. Her stepfather, a painter, musician and poet, initiated Ody into the arts.

                           At age sixteen, Ody decided to go to Israel, where she lived on a Far Left Marxist Kibbutz from 1969 to 1977. Later in 1977 she moved to Paris and had her first exhibition there. She has been active for many years in the radical women’s movement in France, and also in the international direct-action squatter’s movement. She joined the Surrealist Group in Paris in 1990 and has been one of the most active and articulate spokespersons for international surrealism ever since. She has shown her work in numerous surrealist and outsider art exhibitions all over the world. In 1998, in the course of a month-long sojourn in the United States, she visited Chicago and took part in the activities of the Surrealist Group, who arranged a well-attended exhibition of her drawings and paintings at the studio of Carlos Cortez. Recently her work was featured in the magazine Raw Vision.

                            Ody Saban is a poet in her paintings as well as a poet in words and in life. By nature she works in a state of trance--- a state which, as we know from the writings of Mary Anne Atwood, author of the classic Suggestive Inquiry into the Hermetic Mystery (1850), has strong affinities with alchemical research. The trance state, according to Atwood, enables us “to conjoin the mind to its lost universality behold reflected in the brightened mirror of our own intelligence the pure Truth.” I think of ody Saban as an incarnation of Maria the Alchemist, or perhaps her linear descendent. Maria Hebrae of Hellenic Egypt, whom we know about primarily through the writings of Zosimus the Panopolitan, was the inventor of our basic chemical apparatus, and her important theory that all substances in nature were basically one has come to be embroidered by modern physics. In her teachings Maria urged the true students of Hermes to “Combine together male and female and you find what you seek. Do not be anxious to know whether the work in on fire”---words that could stand as a motto for the work of Ody Saban. Sulfur and mercury, volatile and subtile, the precipitates of quickened desire--- in black and white they glow like hot coals throughout  her work, illuminating a ceaseless procession of wild androgynous messengers: ghosts from the past, transgressors of the present, visitors from the future. Each of them caresses the deepest nerve center of our sexuality, and reminds us that the Androgyne is one of the ancient myths that surrealism has renewed, seeing in it a powerful symbol of the creative resolution of the antinomies that currently keep humankind so disastrously divided.

                        Ody Saban describes herself as a surrealist and an outsider. “The surrealists are the true outsiders, “she says, ”because they know they are outside and they know why.” True seekers of the Gold of Time will always find the way. The unfettered freedom of the imagination and desire are always outside!