Artist Spotlight On Sam Abatgis At Shaw Art Fair: 5 Questions

By Christopher Reilly
In Culture

Sam Abatgis sees the world through a camera lens. The video artist captures digital images and with video editing software, manipulates and layers them into vibrant, visually explosive art that often no longer bears any resemblance to the original picture. Colorful spheres, swirling elements and a feeling of movement permeate his work, and the resultant image can embrace any style—cubist, expressionist, surreal, fantastic realism and some yet unnamed. His work will be featured at Shaw Art Fair October 5-6.

“Bio Sterilization” Sam Abatgis Courtesy of the Artist

“Bio Sterilization”
Sam Abatgis
Courtesy of the artist

Abatgis had a light-bulb moment of sorts. The need to be creative between video jobs led to his toying with digital pictures making striking images from commonplace scenes, often drawing from his love of nature and infused with his passion for color and texture. When an acquaintance remarked they had never seen anything like his kind of art, he knew he was on the right track. “When I hear statements like that I am empowered to continue making art that makes people want to own it,” Abatgis says.

“PSI - 50” Sam Abatgis Courtesy of the Artist

“PSI – 50”
Sam Abatgis
Courtesy of the artist

While his taste in art is eclectic, Abatgis leans toward Vincent Van Gogh, Jackson Pollack and Salvadore Dalí, citing Van Gogh’s vibrant color, Pollack’s chaotic energy, and Dalí’s surreal worlds. But it is Pollack’s pure expressions of form and color that he enjoys the most. If there’s an art fair or festival in the area, you can generally expect to find Abatgis. He has recently shown at Queeny Art Fair (where he won Second Place in 2D Art Category), Bluesfest, Soulard Art Fair, Taste of St. Louis, Webster Art and Air, and more.

“Braquasso”  Sam Abatgis Courtesy of the Artist

“Braquasso”
Sam Abatgis
Courtesy of the artist

We caught up with Abatgis and got the 411 on his process, his art, and just what the heck that thing is.

ALIVE: How would you describe your art in general?

Abatgis: My art is a combination of videography, photography and digital effects. I bring video and or photographic frames into a video editing program and layer, color, and manipulate the image with video effects. Some images can have up to 200 layers of video and take up to 30 hours to complete. Because I am using effects that are meant for moving images, my art can have a real sense of action. And I love color—in all its hues and saturations.

ALIVE: Are there any particular themes you explore in your art?

Abatgis: I love astronomical manipulations and nature in general, but as far as themes, I find texture, form and color everywhere so if I feel I can do something exciting to it, I will use it.

ALIVE: What can people expect to see in your upcoming show?

Abatgis: They can see a wide variety of art that can satisfy almost anyone’s taste, from the serene to the vibrant to the macabre. I am also doing a lot with the Hubble Space telescope images of galaxies and nebulas. I have finished four very exciting images that I enhanced and changed with a number of wild effects.

ALIVE: What do you hope to achieve with your art?

Abatgis: I want people to be intrigued and a bit mystified by my art. I really don’t want them to know what they are looking at—just enjoy the “wow” factor they feel when viewing it. I get all types of questions as to exactly what the image is. “Is it real, is it a painting, is it photography, is it purely digital? I usually respond with something like, “It is whatever you think it is. You give it meaning. I just give it life.”

ALIVE: Pick one piece in the show and describe it: inspiration/meaning/technique…whatever strikes you.

Abatgis: I have a piece called “Hydrogenesis.” First of all, as far as naming my art, I take many things into consideration: How it looks, how it feels, what it is telling me. I love to combine words to make my titles—Hydrogen – Genesis—”Hydrogenesis” (below). The image is made from clouds. After combining some effects it began to develop a center area that was calling me, sucking me in. I added some color where it was necessary and to this day it is one of my most popular images because everyone responds to it in an almost spiritual nature. I’ve had many people tell me they are drawn to it and they don’t know why.

“Hydrogenesis” Sam Abatgis Courtesy of the Artist

“Hydrogenesis”
Sam Abatgis
Courtesy of the artist

Sam Abatgis’ work will be featured at Shaw Art Fair, Saturday, Oct. 5 9am to 5pm and Sunday, Oct. 6 10am to 5pm.

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