I live in the Hudson Valley and work both outside, directly from life, and on studio pieces that are non-representational. My landscapes are from observation, and they are the product of the experience of being out in the open air, in the moment. I paint small paintings in one sitting, and larger canvas', demanding more time, are developed and worked on out in the elements, seeing. For the past several years I have been painting images of Donegal, Ireland, and Machu Picchu, Peru from memory, with an internal rather than external perceptual focus.
In my studio, I create pared down images on canvas or on paper that are gestural and iconic, derived from nature, but abstract. I am very engaged with color, process and tools, and my intuitive sense of space and form. Vision coming from within rather than without. I use directly rolled out colors that transform into sculptural mass, or alternately fluid abstractions. Critics have more than once compared this work to dance and music, water, sky, and stone. It was described as “channeled” by Paul Smart of the Woodstock Times. But, art historian Kevin D. Murphy made a connection between my landscape painting and my studio work, inadvertently. He writes of my abstract work: "the sense of an archeological investigation of the landscape is present...magnifying her findings in a way that has the ability to turn the diminutive into the gigantic. She has made expansive works. But Chermayeff does not equate the scale of the landscape itself; instead, the microscopic remains of the past are inflated to panoramic proportions."
Both my studio work, and my perceptual landscape work, are deliberate and constructed attempts in simplifying art forms which can be controlled only partially and after that, it IS "channeling", or as I like to see it- accidents that are meant to happen. Artists make decisions all the time, both conscious and unconscious, in what seems an infinite pool of sensory material. I work to compress a single piece of paper or wood, during a determined moment in time, that begins and ends, into something with a life of its own. I try to achieve clarity and balance, whether gently squeezing all of nature into ten square inches, or making a large field of moving color. Now, in my most recent work in oi, my scale is larger and I am concerned with remembering and envisioning a time , a place , a scale that evokes the elements and the vastness of dramatic places that I have visited on my travels.
Once, when I was talking to photographer Nan Goldin, she described why she loved Dennis Hopper, and said, "he's in control and out of control at the same time" and I connected to the idea, and think ....can I do that AND distill my visions? Can I assimilate all I have learned and still create something free of the burden and struggle that so often accompanies deep inquiry? Can I let the ability to create represent my freedom from the marketplace and the material value of work? I care only to relate to the oil painting of the past now. As a painter in the current political world and climate, I'm interested being "the period on the end of the sentence", so to speak, as opposed to vying for connection with the next "new" wave of art and ideas. My relationship lies with the painters who have always loved oil paint and its capacity to explain nothing, and be without words, and simply be beautiful.
- Sasha Chermayeff