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David Sacks

“With the advent of photography, painting underwent a radical transformation. Nowadays, the digital process is revolutionising photography. The chemigram, fusion of painting and photography, is most likely the ultimate adventure of photosensitive paper” Pierre Cordier, a chemigram pioneer.


Chemigram means “writing with chemistry” as it combines the physics of painting and the chemistry of photography. They are not photographs, as I make them in full light, without a camera or a lens. To make a chemigram, I brush, splash, drip or spray darkroom chemicals onto black and white or colour photosensitive paper. By controlling the action of the chemicals on the paper, I can elicit a wide range of tones, hues, forms, shapes and textures. I achieve this by coating the paper with substances that, over time, become unstuck, crack, erode or dissolve in the chemical solutions. Due to chance, each piece is unique and some of my best work begins with a happy accident which I then guide to foster the emerging composition, colour and mood. The intention of most of my work, and with those on display, is to invoke a personal interpretation of the ambiguous non-literal subject and mood.

David Sacks is a scientist and self-taught artist with a special interest in alternative darkroom techniques, landscape and nature photography, and oil painting. The experimental and unrestricted processes of the chemigram and mordançage presents him with unique mediums for abstract expressionism. In contrast to these investigational processes, he began his training in the rigorous techniques of the classic realist old masters in the atelier of the contemporary realist South African artist Kim Meyerson. He seeks to integrate the spontaneous and unpredictable nature of alternative processes with the exacting methods of fine art and photography to more accurately portray nature, people and our experience.

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